Toddler Dies From E. Coli After Visiting County Fair Petting Zoo

A Maine has died after contracting E. coli while he was visiting a petting zoo at the Oxford County Fair.

According to WMTW, 20-month-old Colton Guay of Poland died on Monday, October 5, from HUS, hemolytic uremic syndrome, a week after he was admitted to the Maine Medical Center for severe case of diarrhea.

Mayo Clinic defines HUS as “a condition that results from the abnormal premature destruction of red blood cells.” When this happens, the damaged red blood cells clog the filtering system in the kidneys, ultimately leading to kidney failure. The majority of the cases of hemolytic uremic syndrome develop in children after two to 14 days of diarrhea due to being infected with a certain strain of E. coli.

Jon Guay, Cotlton’s father, said they believe Colton contracted the bacteria E. coli when he was petting the farm animals at the petting zoo.

“It is believed that he contracted it through simple interaction with farm animals at a local fair (based on other similar cases). It began with severe diarrhea and ended with massive brain seizures that ultimately took his life,” Jon wrote in a lengthy Facebook post.

“Beth [Colton’s mother] and I were with him almost every moment in the hospital and are happy we got to hold and rock him to sleep. I have learned that there is no pain worse than losing the life of your childs. I am relieved to know that he is in a better place free from any further pain or suffering.

I pray that he watches over us, looks out for his future sister Ainsley, and occasionally shows up to check in.”

While the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention hasn’t officially confirmed the link between the fair and the toddler’s death, Colton was one of two toddlers that contracted HUS in Maine, both of whom went to the petting zoo. Seventeen-month-old Myles Herschaft of Auburn also came in contact with the bacteria. He was taken to the hospital and is listed as being in fair condition at the Maine Medical Center.

After the news of Colton’s death, there was a heightened awareness at the Fryeburg Fair on Wednesday as the children were petting goats and other animals. Signs were posted, explaining the importance of hand washing after touching the animals, and hand sanitizer was readily available to all who came in contact with the animals.

“We are pretty adamant, but I think we’re going to be even more conscious of it now,” Kate Sutherland of Bethel said.

Veterinarians at the Fryeburg Fair explained how the E. coli was transmitted to the two toddlers.

“They are coming in contact with manure from an animal shedding the organism, which is something we cannot tell ahead of time, and then they’re putting their fingers in their mouth or they are eating food without washing their hands,” said Dr. Mark Anderson, a veterinarian.

E. coli can be spread through contaminated food, or through animals, people, or surfaces containing the bacteria. Symptoms of the illness include diarrhea, abdominal cramps, nausea, and vomiting. The best way to avoid contracting the bacteria is to thoroughly wash your hands often, according to experts.

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