Samples tested by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cannot be tied to the E. coli-related illnesses of two children in October to the Oxford County Fair
Additional investigation of other potential causes was also inconclusive, and the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention said it's investigation has been closed and the cause of these cases has been labeled as "undetermined."
Colton Guay, a 20-month-old toddler from Poland, died at Maine Medical Center in early October. Another youngster, 17-month-old Myles Herschaft of Auburn, fell ill but recovered.
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"The reality is that the majority of cases we investigate end up with an undetermined cause," said Dr. Siiri Bennett, Maine's state epidemiologist. "While we know the two children were infected by the same molecular strain of Shiga-toxin producing E. coli, or STEC, that same strain was not found in any of the samples that we tested here in Maine, or in the samples we sent to the U.S. CDC."
The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention was notified in October of the two cases of hemolytic uremic syndrome in children. Testing in Maine confirmed that both cases had the same molecular strain of E. coli, making it highly likely that the children acquired the illness from the same source.
Both children had recently attended the annual Oxford County Fair, so samples were collected from the fairgrounds and tested in Maine.
Four samples tested negative for E. coli, but one sample from animal pens adjacent to one barn area was positive. That sample was sent to the U.S. CDC, but lab tests confirmed that this sample did not match the strain that caused the two children to fall ill.
A second sample from the petting zoo area also tested positive for E. coli, but repeated tests by the U.S. CDC found no evidence of the Shiga-toxin producing E. coli.