2 girls hospitalized, 70 possibly exposed to E. coli infection at Monroe school

MONROE, Wash. -- Two school girls are hospitalized and 70 others may be at risk following an E. coli outbreak at Monroe Montessori School.

On Wednesday, the Snohomish Health District shut down the school to stop the spread of the bacteria.  Some 60 students and 10 staff members could have all been exposed.

“They’re babies. That’s scary,” said Wendy Weilbacher who lives in Monroe.

Two preschool-aged girls who attend Monroe Montessori School lay in hospital beds trying to recover after an E. coli oli infection.  One girl is now suffering from kidney complications.

“I deeply am concerned for that little girl who is sick. I hope that she gets better,” said Weilbacher.

Weilbacher works just next door to the school and hopes to one day send her kids there.

“We don’t have reports that it was spread at the school, that’s why we’re doing the testing,” said Snohomish Health District Communications Officer Heather Thomas.

“They are going through and sanitizing the facility and they will be testing all of the children who have been in that facility since July 11th as well as staff,” said Thomas.

Even though a sign says the school is temporarily shut down,  onThursday the Snohomish Health District will be here to meet with parents and staff so they can get their kids tested.

“It’s a stool sample. So our staff will be going out there tomorrow (Thursday) to hand out kits to all the parents and staff members,” said Thomas.

Thomas says E. coli spreads easily, especially with kids.

“Their hygiene is nonexistent.  They’re always putting things in their mouth, especially my little one,” said Monroe parent Angelina Vaefaga.

Vaefaga, a mother of three, heard about the E. coli incident through the grapevine.  Even though her kids don’t attend Monroe Montessori School, she still fears for them because of the possible spread in her community.

“Definitely take them to the doctors. I’m kind of religious about that. If I notice anything different about them, I take them to the doctor, especially with something like that going around,” said Vaefaga.

The health district says parents should look for symptoms of an E. coli infection like stomach cramping, nausea, diarrhea, and a bloody stool.  If this happens, they urge parents to consult their health care provider immediately.