2 Hildale children die following E. coli outbreak

Hildale resident Gabriella Addison Fullerton, 6, died of an E. coli infection Friday | Photo courtesy of the Fullerton family, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — Two young children have died of an E. coli infection after an outbreak of the bacterial disease affected several residents in Hildale over the past two weeks.

Family members of 6-year-old Gabriella Addison Fullerton confirmed to St. George News that the little girl died Friday after an unrelated 3-year-old boy died of the same illness earlier that week.

Six cases of E. coli infection, including the two children, are confirmed by the Southwest Utah Public Health Department to have affected patients in a small area of Hildale.

The outbreak appears to be confined to a limited area of Hildale and risk to the larger community is not considered to be significant at this time,” a news release issued Monday afternoon by the Southwest Utah Public Health Department states.

The source of the outbreak is still undetermined and is currently being investigated by health department personnel. The investigation is currently focusing on exposure to animals or tainted food as possible causes.

Tests of the water supply have repeatedly come back clean, David Heaton, Southwest Utah Public Health Department public information officer, said previously.

Gabriella first fell ill June 22, Jared Rosado, the girl’s grandfather, said, adding that she was taken to Dixie Regional Medical Center for treatment but was sent home twice.

“The parents were upset because they sent her home knowing she had E. coli and that a little boy in the same housing complex had died already,” Rosado said. “So they drove her to Cedar City to the hospital where she was then taken to Primary Children’s Hospital by ambulance.”

She died a short while later.

“Well, the hospital in St. George should never have sent her home twice,” Rosado said. “May not have changed the outcome, but there was a chance.”

While Dixie Regional Medical Center officials are aware of the outbreak, the hospital was unable to comment about specific patients when asked by St. George News due to federal privacy laws.

Whenever a life is lost, it’s a tragic situation, and our hearts are heavy,” Terri Draper, Intermountain Healthcare’s southwest region communications director for Dixie Regional Medical Center, said.

A GoFundMe fundraiser has been set up by Gabriella’s family to help pay for funeral and medical costs.

E. coli symptoms and prevention

Disease-causing strains of E. coli are usually spread to humans when tiny amounts of human or animal feces are ingested. These particles can come from unwashed hands, contaminated water or food and animal exposure.

Symptoms of E. coli can include stomach cramps, diarrhea, vomiting and fever of 101 degrees or lower. Bloody diarrhea is a symptom characteristic of the strain involved in the outbreak. Symptoms will appear between one to 10 days after exposure.

Most people will recover within five to seven days after becoming ill, but a health care provider should be contacted for those showing symptoms.

E. coli infection can be prevented by thorough hand washing after animal exposure, using the restroom, changing diapers and before and after food preparation.

Raw meat should be separated from other foods. Meat should be cooked to safe temperatures of at least 165 degrees and foods that can spoil within two hours should be kept refrigerated.

The health department cautions against drinking raw milk or unpurified water from streams, ponds or lakes.

More information and updates will be available on the health department website and its Facebook page.

Email: jwitham@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2017, all rights reserved.

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10 Comments

  • comments July 3, 2017 at 7:00 pm

    woah. If that’s the actual case then IHC may have a pretty little lawsuit on their hands. I actually despise the ER at DRMC. Seems their whole game plan is “patch ’em up and get ’em out as fast as possible”. This is the sort of BS I’ve dealt with from them and I have full coverage. I’d hate to see the way they treat uninsured. But if one of the kids actually died and this was told to them I can’t imagine they’d just ‘patch ’em up and ship ’em out’; that would be reprehensible and actually grouds for termination for whatever doctor, besides the lawsuit. The question is, is that what really went down or is it not the whole story? Again, I despise the drmc ER, but I’ll wait for the whole story. Sorry to hear about the children.

    • comments July 3, 2017 at 7:45 pm

      Well, I read an article on the SLtrib, and if this story it totally legit and goes national drmc is in for some seriously nasty press, and if whatever doctor really did screw up this bad, well… there will be repercussions for him/her. You folks at drmc really should think about not treating folks who go to the ER like a bunch of cattle. It’s been awhile since I went there (years) but that ER was as good as worthless–pushy, rude doctors, leaving people in rooms just waiting and waiting. They did absolutely 0 for the problems I went in for, sent me home quick, good as worthless, billed my insurance something like $800 (or close). Totally worthless. If DRMC gets a hellstorm from this they’ll have well deserved it.

  • comments July 3, 2017 at 8:02 pm

    Just to be fair tho, they aren’t all bad over at drmc. That’s why i’m gonna remain a bit skeptical of this story till it all comes out. Usually a doc won’t just send home someone with severe abdominal pain. So even with bad experiences from a couple docs there I’m gonna just say wait for the whole story. It is too bad about the children.

  • The Dude July 3, 2017 at 11:46 pm

    I know the article​ said the children were from Hildale, UT. But they may be from Colorado City, AZ. Seems like a small matter, except when Medicaid insurance is involved. If the children were from AZ getting care in UT. Payment for the ER is covered but not a hospital stay. This issue of state to state Medicaid payment might be a contributing factor here. Because UT didn’t expand Medicaid under the ACA/Obamacare but AZ did. State to state coverage can (but shouldn’t) be an issue with hospital care.

    • comments July 4, 2017 at 3:18 pm

      If you’re right and it came down to the hopital turning them away because their main priority was getting paid $$$, well, that’s a sad sad state of affairs. I think that would constitute criminal negligence or criminal malpractice. I know that IHC and DRMC are greedy, money sucking corporations with a never ending lust for more and more cash, but I actually hope the medical establishment here has enough humanity left to not just turn sick kids out with no treatment because they’re worried they won’t get paid, but nothing surprises me anymore. We’ll wait for the full story.

  • youcandoit July 4, 2017 at 12:33 pm

    This is a horrible tragedy. I’ve had bad experiences with the er department. I had a shattered tailbone I had surgery in Las Vegas I had to go to er make sure I wasn’t getting a bone infection a certain er Dr didn’t know what to do he actually told me to go back to Las Vegas he used the same bandage to cover my wound. I left crying. When I reported his conduct I was told the Dr’s are contracted. I have great insurance. He was a jerk.

    • comments July 4, 2017 at 3:19 pm

      And I’m sure you got billed at least $500 for such great service? or…

  • Proud Rebel July 4, 2017 at 12:57 pm

    I have nothing but praise for the ER staff at DRMC! I’m not being dramatic at all, by saying they saved my life a couple of times. Heart problems. That is one area where they do an immediate triage to see how urgently care is needed. If it is needed immediately, care is given immediately.
    Now I do understand where comments is coming from. I’ve been in there with some broken bone injuries, (myself,) and some less that emergent medical issues, (I brought someone in, as the only other option was waiting hours at Instacare, only to be told to go to the ER anyway…smh,) where I’ve had to wait for hours.
    But when you see what all ends up in the ER at just about any given time, but particularly on a holiday weekend, don’t plan on being seen in the order you arrived, but by the seriousness of the condition.

    • Proud Rebel July 4, 2017 at 12:59 pm

      Oh for heaven sake’s, I got into my own experiences with the ER, and didn’t touch on these two kids from Short Creek. This is something that really does bear investigating to see what really happened. No matter who the kids are. They couldn’t help what they were born into.

  • The Dude July 4, 2017 at 11:04 pm

    Getting treated in the ER and being admitted to the hospital for treatment are two different things. They are required by law to treat you in the ER. But you need a doctor’s recommendation to be admitted into the hospital for treatment. The doctor has to get approval to admit you into the hospital. Without insurance getting admitted is next to impossible. If your condition is beyond what they can treat in the ER you will go to Salt Lake. If you condition​ needs an extended stay for treatment, it will need to be reviewed by the supervising physician to get approved. That’s the system, it’s not about your care only. It’s also how it effects the operation and bottom line of the hospital.

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