Stricken with E. coli, girl fighting

A 5-year-old girl remains hospitalized in the Louisiana Health Sciences Center-Shreveport’s pediatric intensive care unit more than two weeks after contracting E. coli O157 while attending a party in Richland Parish.

Tom Sumrall, the girl’s grandfather, said as many as 15 children were sickened following an end-of-the-year Ouachita Christian School party last month on a farm between Start and Rayville.

OCS headmaster Bobby Stokes said the party was not put on by the school.

At least three children were hospitalized. A young boy was released from a Jackson, Miss., hospital last week and a young girl was released from LSU Health Sciences Center-Shreveport Thursday, Sumrall said.

Dr. Shelley Jones, the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals Region 8 director, suspects the children contracted the E. coli while playing in a mud pit. It was likely transmitted from the infected fecal matter of a cow.

"We do know based on preliminary analysis that the children who played in the mud pit more than five minutes were more likely to have symptoms," Jones said.

"But the state lab is unable to do environmental testing, so we’re probably not going to know definitively."

John Cooper, the 5-year-old girl’s father, said his daughter remains on dialysis and was just removed from a venilator on Thursday. Cooper said both of his daughter’s lungs collapsed.