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Putting a face on E. coli: Two kids with infection still hospitalized in Iowa City

By Joe Benedict/MVM News Network

Published: Friday, October 31, 2008 1:09 PM CDT


Source of Article:  http://www.dailygate.com/articles/2008/10/31/news/01.txt


IOWA CITY - Seven-year-old TiAhnna Bryant of Donnellson sat in her bed giggling and playing Connect Four with her father Thursday at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics in Iowa City.

Down the hall 5-year-old Kaden Althide of Warsaw, Ill., didn't look as comfortable as his father lay in his hospital bed with him.

The two children are in the hospital after contracting E. coli more than three weeks ago.

TiAhnna's mother, SuzAnne Griffis, said her daughter is doing much better in the past few days. Her daughter and Kaden had contracted Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome from the E. coli infection. This is a disease that causes kidneys to shut down in young children. Griffis said another girl from Keokuk was in the hospital for about a week because of an E. Coli infection, but had gone home already. She said that girl was a little older and at 12, maybe the bacteria didn't hit as hard.

Kaden's mom, Kim Althide, said his situation may have been made worse after a trip to the pediatrician. When this bacteria hits, the symptoms are flu-like. While the influenza is a virus and antibiotics do not fight viruses, Kaden's doctor thought he had a slight ear infection and prescribed antibiotics.

“That killed the E. coli, but that actually made the situation worse,” Althide said.

Both the children had to be put on dialysis because of kidney shutdowns. Griffis said doctors also were concerned about other organs like her stomach and heart. She said it was a frightening week in ICU as TiAhnna took one turn after another.

“Every day led to a new tube,” she said. “By the time she left ICU, she had seven.”

All but two of those are out now. If TiAhnna begins to eat regularly, she will soon be released, Griffis said.

She is on anti-nausea drugs to help her keep food down, but the doctor does not want to release her while she is still on the medicine. Griffis said they are trying different things for her to eat to see what she can handle. On Thursday, she had some toast, cottage cheese and Goldfish crackers.

“You have to eat if you want to go home,” Griffis said to TiAhnna.

“I don't want to,” TiAhnna said.

But she does want to go home soon. She said she misses her house.

“My room is lonely without me,” she said.

Althide said the doctors hadn't put a timeline on when Kaden might be released. He is still having some kidney troubles, though he's urinating more and that is a sign the kidneys are getting back to normal. However, Althide said he will probably have to have another round of dialysis today.

Another complication the children have from the infection is high blood pressure. They may have to take high blood pressure medicine for some time.

Both parents are hopeful their children will make a full recovery, but it is too early to be 100 percent certain there will be no lasting effects.

“We'll wait and see if it comes all the way back,” Althide said. “Every kid kind of reacts differently.”

The two families have become friends after spending almost a month together.

“I'll go down and peek into his (Kaden's) room and ask how he's doing,” Griffis said. “I'm definitely going to keep in touch when we leave.”

Althide said Kaden was the first one of the three at the Iowa City hospital and she heard “through the grapevine” that a girl also was sick and on her way. The two families have since lent each other support through the trying times.

“It's nice to have someone to relate to,” Griffis said.

It's not that the children haven't had support from home either. Many classmates, relatives and other friends have come to visit the children. TiAhnna's art teacher drew her a nice butterfly picture and she received a personal visit from her school nurse.

“That was the first smile we saw,” Griffis said. “It was a great smile.”

Both sets of parents said they feel frustrated with the area and state public health departments. Bob Bryant, TiAhnna's father, said he got a call the day after his daughter's surgery and was asked several questions and was told of the probability of E. coli. He said he's never heard any updates from the department since.

Althide said it was the same situation in Hancock County, Ill. It took three weeks for the Hancock County Health Department to confirm her child had an E. coli infection. By that time, the cause is probably gone, she said.

Both sets of parents also said they have heard many stories of children getting sick with flu-like symptoms, but not as serious as their children's symptoms.

Griffis said it seems like the health department does not want to link the cases together. The reason for that may have come from a press release on Thursday that said at the DNA level Kaden and TiAhnna's E. coli infections are not related.

What is related, however, is that the two both drank unpastuerized apple cider in Lee County, Kaden on Oct. 4 and TiAhnna on Oct. 5. This occurred at the same business from an outside vendor who was brought in to demonstrate the making of the cider.

Althide and Griffis said this incident has made them think more about their food.

“It's definitely made us germaphobes,” Althide said.

Griffis said she knows someone who went through a similar situation about six years ago and now that parent washes fruits and vegetables with soap, instead of the quick rinse under the tap. She said she's been using hand sanitizer more often and it's getting to be a habit.

The Lee County Health Department has no more pending cases of E. coli it is investigating. It has not reached a conclusion as to what caused the recent rash of infections.



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