Tragedy has struck a Minnesota family, with a young brother and sister both contracting a strain of E.coli that has killed one of them and left the other critically ill.
Kade Maresh, of Maple Lake, is in hospital fighting for his life after contracting the bacteria that claimed the life of his sister, Kallan, on Sunday night.
According to the family's CaringBridge page, it all started on Sunday, July 9 when Kade came down with "non-stop bloody diarrhea and vomiting," with his sister coming down with the same ailments a day later.
In a post on the site Monday, their parents, Tyffani and Joe Maresh, said after the toxic bacteria damaged her kidneys and caused her neurological damage, "our sweet, sweet little girl lost the battle and went to heaven last night."
Before she died, the couple said they gave her a bath, put her "favorite jammies" on and then "got to hold her free of tubes and snuggle and kiss her."
"She is the most amazing little girl in the world," they wrote. "Our hearts are aching with the deepest sadness."
"Hold your loved ones extra close and let them know how much you love them," they added.
Kade is still battling the bacteria that has also affected his kidneys, but has not yet spread to his neurological system. As of Monday night, his blood work was showing no signs of improvement despite several blood transfusions, the CaringBridge page says. He is also on continuous dialysis.
A GoFundMe page for the family has so far raised more than $35,000, almost double the $20,000 target.
State health department investigating
WCCO reports the Minnesota Department of Health is investigating where the children were exposed to the shiga toxin-producing E.coli 0157, noting it can be acquired from animals at petting zoos, or by eating unsanitary meat, produce or dairy.
The shiga toxins work by targeting tiny blood vessels in the body, preventing the body's ability to transfer oxygen in red blood cells, the TV station notes.
In Kallan, this led to hemolytic uremic syndrome, which according to the Mayo Clinic is a condition caused by abnormal destruction of the blood cells. These damaged cells clog the filtering system in the kidneys, which can lead to kidney failure.
Shiga toxin-producing E. coli is one of the most commonly heard about because of its connection to foodborne outbreaks, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says. There was a recent outbreak of this type of E. coli that was linked to recalled SoyNut Butter, but no cases were linked to Minnesota.
For more information on this type of E. coli, click here.