GILBERT, Ariz. - The town of Gilbert and an elementary school in the East Valley city are facing a possible legal challenge after six students contracted the E-Coli bacteria.
Two of the families have filed a $116 million Notice of Claim against the city and the school. A Notice of Claim is often the first step before a lawsuit.
While 90% of E-Coli cases run their course in a matter of days, a small number of cases can have life-threatening complications, especially for the young and the old. Now, the city will have to decide whether to pay up or possibly go to court.
According to the claim, the 4th and 5th grade boys got sick on the same week of May, contracting E-Coli from inside the school. The illness may have been contracted from food, water, infected surfaces, staff, other students or animals.
Dr. Dan Quan, an ER doctor at Valleywise Hospital in Phoenix, has seen plenty of E-Coli Cases. Dr. Quan did not treat the boys.
"So it can be from minimal all the way to several symptoms, all the way to kidney failure and blood problems," said Dr. Quan.
According to the claim, the effects of E-Coli, as well as the often accompanying Shiga toxin, are chilling. One boy reportedly suffered brain damage, and is unable to walk, talk or eat.
The other boy, meanwhile, is reportedly dealing with scarred kidneys, optic nerve damage, high blood pressure, and anxiety.
"The toxic, you can't cure it or treat it with antibiotics because it's a toxin," said Dr. Quan. "IV fluids and sometimes, you just hope for the best."
Officials with Gilbert and the school deny responsibility, saying they are in full compliance with government standards. and that no E-Coli was found during a voluntary inspection by the County, as well as questioning why only a handful of students got sick in a school of over 700.
The County inspection did find a few problem spots, in terms of handwashing, food prep, and a clogged toilet.
In addition, there was a guinea pig and rabbit inside the school.
The best defense against E-Coli is to wash your hands.