• Kyodo

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A 5-year-old girl died Tuesday from the O-157 strain of E. coli bacteria at a nursery in Ikoma, Nara Prefecture, prefectural government officials said Wednesday.

Health ministry officials said hers was the first death this year from E. coli.

Eight other children experienced stomachaches and diarrhea, but their symptoms were relatively minor, the officials said. Nursery staff said all children in its care except those under 1 year old ate the same lunches, prompting local health officials to suspect the food was contaminated with the bacteria.

The girl had a prior illness that depressed her immune system and likely made her more vulnerable to the infection, the officials said. She began complaining of stomach pains at the nursery on the afternoon of July 26 and was hospitalized Saturday.

While no other children experienced symptoms as severe, health officials were conducting tests to see whether they were infected. About 190 children attend the nursery, which is staffed by 48 people.

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