Health officials unable to identify source in siblings' E. coli infections

The source of an E. coli bacterial infection that killed a young Wright County girl and seriously sickened her brother remains unclear, according to a Minnesota Department of Health investigation.

As a precaution, MDH investigated A maze'n Farmyard near Eden Valley and asked the petting zoo to pull some of their animals from public viewing. The Maresh family had visited the petting zoo before their children fell ill.

“Unfortunately, we were not able to identify the source of the children’s infections,” said MDH State Public Health Veterinarian Joni Scheftel. “In particular, we did not find a connection with a petting zoo that the children visited, despite extensive testing of the animals.” 

Investigators considered all known potential sources of E. coli, including typical sources, which can include foods such as ground beef, leafy greens and raw milk; swimming; person-to-person transmission in families or daycares; and farm animal contact, such as at fairs or petting zoos.

According to a recent CaringBridge post, Kade Maresh is out of the hospital and is recovering at home. His sister, Kallan, died after contracting hemolytic uremic syndrome, which is a serious form of kidney failure.

So far, there have not been any other cases of people infected with the same strains of E. coli. However, health officials remind people that E. coli bacteria can be found in food and animals, including healthy ones.