On the heels of 6-year-old Owen Carrignan’s death in Massachussetts, health officials from Louisianna, the CDC, and several other southern states are trying to pinpoint the source of an E. coli outbreak that has sickened multiple people in the south.  In Louisianna, the E. coli outbreak has claimed the life of a 21-month-old child.

Initially, the toddler was thought to have been sickened at a local petting zoo, but that has been ruled out, likely because of other confirmed E. coli infections in other states that were a genetic match to the toddler’s, but the people had not visited the petting zoo.

Dr. Takeisha Davis, the Louisianna State Officer of Public Health, said the same strain of E. coli sickened two other children in the New Orleans area and is linked to a multi-state outbreak.  “Several southern states are involved,” she said, “and we are all working together with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to confirm the common source to make sure we’re protecting the citizens.”

There is no word yet on what specific strain of E. coli caused this outbreak.  Multiple different strains, including E. coli O157:H7, E. coli O111, E. coli O26, E. coli O45, and others produce shiga-toxins, which can lead to the development of hemolytic uremic syndrome, or HUS.  Experts familiar with the outbreak have said that this particular strain of bacteria is more dangerous than others. It sickened three people in 2010 and three others in 2011.