A 2-year-old boy is on life support at Children's Medical Center of Dallas while investigators search for the source of the potentially deadly E. coli bacteria that is ravaging the child's body.
Landon Huston and his parents returned to their home in Ennis after a trip to Oklahoma. Within days the young boy was suffering from stomach virus-type symptoms.
A fecal test confirmed E. coli and they quickly took him to Children's Medical Center Dallas.
The most dangerous forms of E. coli produce a Shiga toxin. In Landon's case, it led to Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome (HUS), the abnormal destruction of red blood cells which leads to kidney failure.
Two surgeries later the child is on life support with his parents hoping that this weekend he will finally be able to breathe on his own.
"We cant hold him. We can't love on him. All we can do is just stand at the bedside," said Lindsey Montgomery, the boy's mom.
What they don't know is where the bacteria came from.
It is most commonly a food-borne infection. The bacteria is found in the intestines of cattle and other animals. Contaminated and undercooked ground beef is often a culprit: a major outbreak on the west coast of the U.S. in 1992-93 killed four children and sickened more than 800 when E. coli contaminated beef was sold at multiple fast food chain locations.
Fecal contamination of crops like sprouts and greens has killed scores of people too. Young children whose immune systems are not fully developed, and the elderly whose immune systems may be compromised, are most at risk.
Surveys by the Centers for Disease Control estimate that 100,000 illnesses, 3,000 hospitalizations, and 90 deaths a year in the U.S. are caused by Shiga toxin-producing E. coli bacteria.
"Most parents like us had no idea you know the dangers of something like this. And it's everywhere. E. coli is something that's everywhere," said Montgomery.
Investigators will try to backtrack and find out where this E. coli infection came from. Meanwhile Landon's parents pray he survives his encounter with the potentially deadly bacteria.
"I have faith he's gonna come out on top," said his dad John Huston.
The Huston family has established a GoFundMe page to help with medical expenses.
The Texas Department of State Health Services confirms to WFAA that they are investigating this case and that they are the lead agency for the investigation. No additional details will be given because of confidentiality. So far there are no other related cases.
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