Toddler Dies From E. Coli: Colton Guay Died After Visiting Petting Zoo At County Fair

A toddler died form E. Coli after visiting a petting zoo at a county fair in Maine. Colton Guay contracted the potentially deadly bacteria after attending the Oxford County Fair. Guay was just 20-months-old at the time of his death.

Some E. Coli strains are virtually harmless, while others can lead to kidney failure and severe anemia. Colton Guay contracted Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome — HUS. The condition the toddler died from destroys red blood cells, according to a Fox News report.

HUS patients experienced red blood cells damage, which can hamper the filtering system of the kidneys, leading to organ failure. Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome is most common in children, according to the Mayo Clinic. When kidney failure occurs in child patients, HUS is most commonly the cause, the National Institutes of Health notes.

The Maine State Health Commission has not yet officially confirmed a link between the toddler E. Coli death and the petting zoo at the Oxford County Fair. Colton Guay was one of two toddlers who contracted HUS, and both had visited the same attraction at the Maine fair.

Beth and Jon Guay rushed to the hospital with their son after he began suffering from severe diarrhea. Massive brain seizure ultimately caused the toddler’s death. The couple is expecting the birth of a daughter, to be named Ainsley, in February.

Jon Guay shared the family tragedy and thought about Colton in a Facebook post.

“What started as a joyous occassion in learning that our next baby due in February was going to be a girl soon turned to fear and concern as Colton was admitted to the hospital for severe diarrhea. My son Colton died a week later of H.U.S. I have learned that there is no pain worse than losing the life of your child. I am relieved to know that he is in a better place free from any further pain or suffering. Life is precious and can be taken from you without warning… It is truly important to let those closest to you know how much you care about them.”

Veterinarian Mark Anderson is working to help prevent from experiencing the same pain at the Guay family, NBC News reports. Anderson says that hand washing as soon as children leave a petting zoo should always be a top and immediate priority. The washing will remove any animal fecal matter the children may have come into contact with while enjoying petting the animals and walking in their enclosure.

“They’ve got to wash their hands when they come out of that petting zoo, because they may pick up fecal material in there, and so many of these diseases are fecal/oral and they’re spread, and we want the kids and their parents to be aware of that,” the veterinarian said. “What happened to these poor two toddlers is so rare. I mean, obviously if this was an everyday occurrence or anything even close to that, we wouldn’t even have petting zoos, but it’s an extremely rare event, and I think it gives us all pause.”

The veterinarian’s statement that such E. Coli tragedies are rare is supported by the fact that millions of rural children come into contact with livestock on a daily basis via farm chores or through the involvement in 4-H programs without contracting E. Coli. Petting zoos are also commonplace. The low occurrence rate is possible due to the level of supervision of children, familiarity with livestock handling, and immediate hand washing. Sadly, no parent can watch a child every second of the day, and it only takes a moment for a deadly tragedy to occur.

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