Tuesday's snow day turned out to be good timing for a northwest Omaha daycare as staff members at Pre-K & Play Academy were disinfecting everything. The staff swiftly took action after a scare that a staffer was diagnosed with a "very rapid moving infection."
The daycare worker was initially diagnosed with epiglottitis, which is caused by a rare bacterial infection and spread through the air — through a cough or a sneeze — by a carrier who may not be exhibiting symptoms or even have the illness. Epiglottitis makes it hard to breathe and inflames the tissue around the windpipe.
Staff even posted the name of it on the doors at the daycare, but it turns out epiglottitis wasn't what caused the staffer to get sick. The Douglas County Health Department told 6 News on Wednesday that it was actually something else — and "not" a public safety hazard.
Daycare owner Jami Flynn told 6 News that it's better to be safe than sorry, and that she wanted to make sure parents had all the information she knew when it came to the sick worker. "Err on the side of caution. Make sure, especially when you're dealing with little kids, that you're doing everything you can to keep them safe. That's the most important thing."
According to a letter sent out by the daycare, "(the worker) is currently in the hospital under sedation and has been intubated."
The employee is expected to recover, but county health officials would not say what might have caused the teacher to be hospitalized.
The letter to families also addressed the daycare's decision to remain open:
"In light of this information, we had considered closing the center for the remainder of the week in order to do a thorough cleaning but after careful consideration, we have decided this would cause a tremendous hardship on our families and are not going to do so. We will be taking time today and over the next few days to deep clean as much as we can while still caring for the children. Every surface will be disinfected and run through a washing machine or sanitizer when possible."
The letter also said that the staff member who got sick had been immunized against Haemophilus influenza type b, also known as Hib, which is a common cause of an epiglottitis infection. The letter advised families with children who had not been immunized against Hib to keep their kids home or arrange for them to be cared for elsewhere.
Children infected with epiglottitis would exhibit symptoms that could include: high fever, lessened symptoms when leaning forward or sitting upright, sore throat, a hoarse voice, drooling, difficulty and/or painful swallowing, restlessness and breathing through the mouth.