A 5-year-old boy is fighting to stay alive after contracting the same strain of E. coli that killed his little sister earlier this week.
Kade and Kallan Maresh of Wright County, Minnesota, became sick with non-stop bloody stool and vomiting on July 9 after contracting a shiga toxin-producing bacteria that sent them into acute kidney failure.
Kallan died at the age of 3 when toxin from the bacteria attacked her kidneys and neurological system, according to her parents Joseph and Tyffani Mares.
“Her brain and heart were being damaged,” they wrote on a YouCaring page. “Our sweet sweet little girl lost the battle and went to heaven.”
Kade “is still fighting,” add Joseph and Tyffani. “The toxins have not reached his neurological system but both kidneys. He has had a blood transfusion [and] is on kidney dialysis and may need platelets.
“He has a long road to recovery and we hope and pray the toxins stay away from his brain and heart and other organ systems.”
State health officials are investigating the source of the E. coli that led to a complication of the bacterial infection called hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), reports the Star Tribune.
Animals at a local petting zoo where the children recently visited were taken off of display as an “abundance of precaution,” reports the Star Tribune. But the children could have become infected from any number of sources.
E. coli is found “in the environment, foods, and intestines of people and animals,” according to the CDC.
Joni Scheftel, supervisor of the zoonotic diseases unit at the Minnesota Department of Health, told the publication that death as a result of HUS is very rare, but children and elderly are most at risk. Officials told the Star Tribune they might be able to identify the source next week when lab results come in.
Tyffani implores people to “pray for my baby boy to stay strong and keep fighting” and describes feeling “so deeply hurt from sadness” after losing her daughter.
She adds: “It is absolutely heart breaking watching your babies in so much pain and being so helpless.”
A GoFundMe page set up for the family has raised over $56,000 to assist with medical expenses for the children.
The family posted an update on Kade’s health to YouCaring on Tuesday stating the 5-year-old recently underwent a blood transfusion, platelet transfusion. “This still feels like a nightmare we are waiting to wake up from,” they wrote.