Richard Halstead of the Marin Independent Journal writes two young children, one a 2-year-old Fairfax resident, have been diagnosed with a toxin-producing form of E. coli, and Marin public health officials are investigating the possibility that the source of the bacteria was a creek that runs through Peri Park in downtown Fairfax.
A third child, a 3-year-old San Anselmo resident, has also displayed symptoms consistent with a diagnosis of E. coli, but tests results are still pending. The second confirmed E. coli case is a 3-year-old resident of Truckee. All three children played in Peri Park’s Fairfax Creek not long before becoming ill.
“We have not yet confirmed that water contamination is the source,” said Dr. Lisa Santora, Marin County’s deputy public health officer.
Rebecca Ng, deputy director of Marin County’s environmental health department, said, “We took water samples this morning.”
Test results from those samples weren’t available Thursday; but Santora said they will show only whether there is coliform bacteria in the creek, not whether the type of E. coli that caused these illnesses is present there. Coliform bacteria is found in the intestinal tract of humans and other animals.
Fairfax Town Manager Garrett Toy said the creek is polluted from storm drain runoff and could contain feces from dogs, deer or other animals.
“It’s a creek; there is always going to be bacteria in the creek,” Toy said. “You really shouldn’t be consuming water from the creek even if it is by accident.”
Santora said the Truckee child was the first to become ill and was hospitalized May 8-9 at Marin General Hospital. The Fairfax child became ill on May 15, and the San Anselmo child became ill on May 21.
Neither of the Marin County children have been hospitalized. Santora said she didn’t have current information on the medical condition of any of the children.
The illnesses have caused a flurry of postings on the social media site Nextdoor. According to one posting, the Truckee child was transferred to the University of California at Davis Medical Center in Sacramento after his kidneys began to fail and is responding well to intravenous therapy and blood transfusions.