Seven people now ill with E. coli at Portland preschool

March 14, 2017

Updated 2:30 p.m. Friday, March 17, 2017

The Multnomah County Health Department reported on March 15 that seven people have now been sickened by Escherichia coli bacteria (E. coli) at Montessori of Alameda school in Portland. Six are children and one is an adult. So far all of the E. coli O157 cases are in one classroom.

Four of the people are confirmed to have  E. coli, O157:H7 and  two of these cases genetically match the E. coli strain from the national I.M. Healthy SoyNut Butter outbreak.Three additional people are known to have shiga-toxin producing E. coli and further test results are pending. The Health Department has been investigating diarrhea illnesses at the school since March 7, 2017. 

So far all of the E. coli O157 cases are in one classroom. Because the time from infection to showing symptoms can be many days with E. coli, public health officials are closely tracking any child in the school with diarrhea.

The Health Department says in general,

I.M. Healthy Soy Nut Butter and I.M. Healthy granola was recalled nationwide on March 4, 2017 after 16 other people became ill in nine states, including Oregon.  The Health Department is investigating how the SoyNut Butter E. coli strain was introduced into Montessori of Alameda.

"We are working closely with families, staff, and school administrators to stop the spread of this infection and understand how this outbreak happened," said Dr. Jennifer Vines, Multnomah County Deputy Health Officer. She added that if people have the recalled product still in their home, they should immediately throw it out or return it to the store where it was purchased.  

The bacteria causing the diarrhea, E. coli O157: H7 is the most severe type of Shiga-toxin E. coli. The bacteria also produces a toxin which can damage blood vessels throughout the body, particularly in the kidneys.

Most people become ill from E. coli eating contaminated foods which have not been fully cooked, but E. coli can also spread from person to person - especially in families and in childcare facilities. Symptoms  include diarrhea which can be bloody, abdominal pain or cramping, nausea and vomiting and low grade fever. Since illness with E. coli O157:H7 can occur up to 10 days after exposure, it is possible that additional cases could occur.

The Health Department has been advising parents that any child sick with vomiting or diarrhea, should not attend school.  Parents are advised to contact their healthcare provider with any questions regarding your child’s health.  The Multnomah County Health Department Communicable Disease Services team can be reached at (503) 988-3406.  You can find additional information about E. coli O157:H7 at

You can also learn more about the I.M. Healthy SoyNut Butter here. The Glenview, IL company recalled its product March 4 and expanded the recall March 7 because they were contaminated with E. coli O157:H7 bacteria.  I.M. Healthy Products were distributed in multiple states and may have been purchased in stores or through mail order. They were also distributed to childcare centers and schools in multiple states.