ST. LOUIS (KMOV) – As local health officials continue to investigate an outbreak of E. coli, a local tragic example shows just how serious the condition can be.
A 4-year-old boy from west St. Louis County got so sick with E. coli in August that he ended up in a hospital intensive care unit.
Two days after the child began to feel ill, his parents tool him to the hospital. Within five days, he had total organ failure.
Health officials say they are confident this happened before the current outbreak.
As with any case of E. Coli, health officials ran tests to confirm it, but could never track down the source of the infection.
It only takes a small amount of E. coli to make a healthy adult sick, so children exposed to the bacterium often get very ill and suffer more than an adult.
The 4-year-old turned out to be one of the 20 percent where the E. coli releases a toxin that can lead to a host of complications and make the patient much sicker.
There's no treatment for the E. coli infection, just the complications that it causes. Often times, patients are given morphine because of the intense pain they experience.