Health Officials Cannot Find Source of E. Coli that Killed MN Girl

ST. PAUL, Minn. – The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) announced Monday that they are no closer to identifying the source of a deadly strain of bacteria that killed a 3-year-old girl in Wright County.

Kade Maresh, 5, has been battling the same strain of Shiga toxin-producing E. coli that killed his sister Kallan, 3, in late July. They experienced symptoms including continuous bloody diarrhea and vomiting, a result of the Shiga toxin attacking their kidneys. That attacking process is known as hemolytic uremic syndrome, and it also attacks a person’s neurological system.

The family had visited a petting zoo in the weeks leading up to the children’s illnesses, but MDH found no source of E. coli in any of the animals at the zoo, nor anywhere else for that matter.

MDH announced that their team of epidemiologists have completed their investigation, and found no fault in the petting zoo. Investigators also considered all other known transmitters of the bacteria including raw meat, leafy greens, raw milk, swimming, person-to-person transmission. Yet they still failed to uncover the source of the disease.

“Unfortunately, we were not able to identify the source of the children’s infections,” MDH State Public Health Veterinarian Joni Scheftel said in a press release. “In particular, we did not find a connection with a petting zoo that the children visited, despite extensive testing of the animals.

The zoo had previously took the precautionary measure of removing animals that might have carried the disease leading up to and during MDH’s investigation, reported Fox News.

No additional cases of the deadly disease have been reported yet according to MDH, but the department has not abandoned the investigation entirely yet.

“We will continue to monitor for cases that may help establish a link and/or source,” Scheftel said.

MDH urges citizens to wash their hands after using the bathroom, interacting with animals, and before eating. They also caution that meats should be cooked to their proper temperature, and raw fruits and vegetables should be washed before being eaten.

Anders Koskinen