The Daily Record today reported on the E. coli illness of a 5 year old Ellensburg, Washington resident named Asher Campbell. Fortunately, Asher did not develop hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), or the story’s conclusion may have been much different. But the young boy’s story is testament to what life can be like for a child suffering even an "ordinary" E. coli illness.
Before getting to Asher’s story, however, it is worthy of note that Ellensburg, Washington has been the site of a significant outbreak of E. coli illnesses in recent weeks, affecting mostly children and families at area daycares. Interstingly, it was just announced that the strain of E. coli involved in the outbreak was not the infamous E. coli O157:H7. It was E. coli O26, which can be equally devastating, and can also cause HUS. The article is a little vague on whether Asher contracted E. coli O157 or O26; if the latter was the case, clearly the young boy has some relationship to the E. coli outbreak associated with area daycares.
From Chelsea Krotzer at the Daily Record:
On June 14, the family of four attended a potluck hosted by Central Washington University. The event was hosted off campus.
"What we thought, after thinking about it, was Asher didn’t eat that much besides fruit and potato chips," Ian said. Both parents think the fruit was most likely the culprit.
Three days after the event, Asher began having digestive problems. Two days later, what began as minor discomfort transformed into excruciating pain.
"It’s the worst pain we’ve ever seen him in," Ian said. "He was screaming at the top of his lungs."
Health officials haven’t officially pinpointed a source of the E. coli, and say they might never know the origin.
After seeking advice from their family doctor, the Campbells took Asher to the hospital, where he was kept overnight. Asher was diagnosed with the O157 strain of E. coli.
The doctor’s advice: leave it alone. With no treatment options other than children’s Tylenol, doctors told the Campbells they would have to wait it out.
"It was really scary," Erin said. "It was scary when we didn’t know what it was and it was scary when we found out what it was."
While in the hospital, doctors hooked Asher up to an IV to keep him hydrated, which helped with the cramping.
Once Asher was released, the cramps came back.
"Every 20 minutes for at least a couple days it was just screams," Erin said. "It was extremely difficult to watch. You know his body shouldn’t be doing what it’s doing, and he’s so young."
Some days, Asher would seem like his old self. Then he would collapse on the floor in pain.
The screams were like clockwork. Every time Asher took a drink, once the liquid reached his inflamed intestines, he would scream in pain. The same response would come about five minutes before he had to use the bathroom.
To be safe, they had to put him in diapers, which Asher didn’t take to kindly.