The boy was able to overcome the E. coli symptoms that claimed the life of his sister.
Lab results confirm the presence of E. coli in the child that died this weekend and the presence of the bacteria in a close contact of the child, Virginia Department of Health Public Information Officer Robert Parker said.
“The lab results confirm the presence of E. coli 0157:H7,” Parker said. “That’s a strain of E. coli that causes severe illness.”
Northeast Regional Health Office Medical Director Dr. David Kirschke also confirms a similar severe strain in Northeast Tennessee.
“We have one case of the severe type in Tennessee,” Dr. Kirschke said. “It may be similar to what the two kids from Virginia had.”
In the Tennessee case, Dr. Kirschke said a Northeast Tennessee child is suffering complications in a Knoxville hospital.
Meanwhile, he says there are seven other confirmed cases of E. coli from four Northeast Tennessee counties.
“Everyone is doing fine,” Dr. Kirschke said of those seven people. “From the initial tests, these look like the less severe type of E coli. We are treating it like an outbreak. We are investigating it like an outbreak.”
The Northeast Regional Health Office is urging people to cook their meat thoroughly, wash their raw fruits and vegetables, and avoid swimming in recreation waterways like rivers and lakes that may be prone to agricultural run-off. Meanwhile, the health department is continuing to search for the cause of the “outbreak.”
“We’ve interviewed all of the people,” Dr. Kirschke said. “Some people have eaten ground beef, others have not. Some have eaten fresh fruits, but not everybody. Some have swam in lakes and rivers, but not everybody.”
A two year-old Dryden, VA girl died at Johnson City Medical Center Sunday after potentially being exposed to E. coli.
According to a Washington County, TN Sheriff’s Office Coroner’s Report, the two year-old was brought to the medical center Pediatric Intensive Care Unit with bloody diarrhea after she was “believed to be exposed to E. coli from a contaminated pool.”
According to Capt. Shawn Judy, the report says the girl was transferred from a Southwest Virginia community hospital. The Washington County Sheriff’s Office has now ordered an autopsy.
Her brother was also brought to the hospital with the same symptoms, Capt. Judy said. However, the WCSO is not aware of his condition.
Mountain States Health Alliance Communications Manager Teresa Hicks also did not know the boy’s condition. He has since been transferred to a different hospital, Hicks said.
As for his sister, a Virginia Department of Health spokesperson confirmed the agency is investigating the death of a child, but would not go into specifics. Southwest Virginia Regional Public Information Officer Robert Parker said it’s too early to tell the exact cause of the child’s death.
“We can confirm the death of a child (within the last few days) in the Western Region of Virginia,” Parker said. “The child was ill with a toxin-producing bacterial infection in the gastrointestinal tract. The investigation is continuing. We are awaiting lab results. E. coli is one of a number of things that can cause these types of infections.”
While the Virginia Department of Health waits on those results, Parker urges people to be cautious.
“It’s important for everyone to keep in mind the ways they can prevent the spread of illness,” Parker said. “Cook meat thoroughly. Avoid raw or undercooked meats like hamburger. Make sure food prep surfaces are clean (avoid cross-contamination). Wash your hands frequently. Avoid water that may be contaminated: rivers, lakes, pools. Don’t drink water in a swimming pool, river, or lake. Any child with diarrhea should seek medical attention, because of how quickly diarrhea can lead to dehydration.”
Mountain States Health Alliance Infection Prevention Corporate Manager Rebecca Bartles echoes that advice. She urges people to watch out for the warning signs.
“Usually it starts out with abdominal pain, cramping, diarrhea, and then can progress to bloody diarrhea,” Bartles said. “If a child has those symptoms of abdominal pain and diarrhea that have gone on for any period of time, it’s best to take them to see their physician. Of course, bloody diarrhea is something that warrants immediate health care attention.”
In the most serious cases, E. coli can lead to kidney failure and even death. The bacteria can enter the body through oral contact with human feces or animals feces.