3-year-old girl one of several Lehi patients hospitalized with E. coli

Aug 7, 2023, 6:11 PM | Updated: 7:00 pm

LEHI, Utah — The parents of a girl are urging other parents to keep a close eye on their kids as their daughter was hospitalized after testing positive for E. coli.

Three-year-old Avery Allen tested positive for the severe strain of bacteria and developed hemolytic uremic syndrome, or HUS, which impacts the kidneys.

“So (last) Sunday, we watched, she was not feeling great. You could tell she was just kind of lethargic,” said Jacob Allen, Avery’s father.

3-year-old Avery in the hospital with a family member. (Courtesy: The Allen Family)

Jacob said he and his wife noticed blood in their daughter’s stool. Several days later, they took her to a doctor and she was later admitted to the hospital, where doctors diagnosed her with the rare bacteria.

For the last several days, little Avery has been on a feeding tube, undergoing dialysis, and had several blood transfusions.

On Friday, the Utah County Health Department said suspected pressurized irrigation water could be to blame, but that has not been confirmed as the official cause of the spread.

“When they told us what she had, we had no idea where she would have gotten it,” said Brianna Allen. “We were swimming, we’ve been to various restaurants in Lehi, our daughter who had been out playing in sprinklers,” Jacob added.

Cindy Burnett with Utah’s Department of Health and Human Services said while rare, anyone could be infected with the severe strain of the bacteria.

“But we do see the severe complications mostly in young children, usually under the age of five years,” So we are very concerned about the young children,” Burnett said.

The Utah County Health Department said the eight cases of E. coli are residents of Lehi or have close ties to city residents.

The health department on Friday said its preliminary investigation linked the likely spread of E. coli to drinking and playing in pressurized irrigation water.

“This is a critical situation, and I am concerned for the public. I want residents to be aware that pressurized irrigation water should not be used for anyone to play in,” Mark Johnson, Lehi City Mayor, said. “No one should drink irrigation water that comes to their home.”

Eight cases of E. coli in Utah County, five hospitalized

Lehi’s water department reminded residents that irrigation water should only be used for watering lawns and plants.

“The pressurized irrigation water is mostly surface water,” said Matt Dalton, operations supervisor for the Lehi Water Department. “It’s untreated, unfiltered, it’s a raw water source.”

Dalton said irrigation water is susceptible to animals and other contamination along its journey through lakes and canals. He said kids shouldn’t play in the sprinklers and that families shouldn’t use the irrigation water for inflatable bounce houses or wading pools.

He said health dangers can arise when garden hoses are connected to the irrigation system.

“To me, it would just be a good practice to not drink out of a hose of any kind,” he said. “That way, it doesn’t matter where it was hooked up at some point. Tell your children not to drink out of a garden hose no matter where you are.”

The Utah County Health Department said to contact a healthcare provider if you notice any of the following symptoms:

  • Bloody diarrhea
  • Persistent diarrhea
  • Fever
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

Avery’s parents are urging others to stay safe and practice good hygiene.

“If your kids aren’t asking themselves, you know, that have a doctor take a look,” Jacob said.

The family has set up a GoFundMe* for medical expenses. Extra funds will go towards helping other children at Primary Children’s Hospital, where Avery is being treated.

3-year-old Avery Allen. (Courtesy: The Allen Family) 3-year-old Avery Allen in her hospital bed after testing positive for E. coli. (Courtesy: The Allen Family) Avery Allen being transported to a local hospital. (Courtesy: The Allen Family) 3-year-old Avery Allen. (Courtesy: The Allen Family) Avery Allen with her mother and father. (Courtesy: The Allen Family) 3-year-old Avery Allen. (Courtesy: The Allen Family)

*KSL TV does not assure that the money deposited to the account will be applied for the benefit of the persons named as beneficiaries. If you are considering a deposit to the account, you should consult your own advisors and otherwise proceed at your own risk.

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3-year-old girl one of several Lehi patients hospitalized with E. coli