A 4-year-old Oregon girl has died from medical complications possibly resulting from an E. coli infection contracted sometime just before Labor Day weekend, according to the girl’s uncle, who spoke with Food Safety News. Serena Profitt of Otis, OR, died Monday at Doernbecher Children’s Hospital in Portland. Her symptoms of E. coli infection first appeared around Aug. 29 with bouts of diarrhea, said Travis Profitt, Serena’s uncle. A spokesman for the Lincoln County Health and Human Services Department said that health officials are not ready to announce a cause of death because they have not completed all laboratory testing on the girl’s infection. Travis Profitt told Food Safety News that lab results have confirmed the girl suffered an E. coli infection, but have not yet identified the precise strain of E. coli. She also exhibited a number of symptoms consistent with hemolytic uremic syndrome, a kidney disease often associated with the most severe E. coli infections. A 5-year-old family friend from Washington state is also sick with an E. coli infection and is undergoing treatment in Tacoma. Profitt said the boy is currently on dialysis. According to Profitt, the boy’s infection has been confirmed as E. coli O157:H7, the strain most commonly known for producing shiga toxin, the cause of E. coli-related medical complications. State and local health officials are still working to determine the source of the infections. Profitt said that Serena and the other sick child shared a turkey sandwich at a restaurant. However, they also played in a pond and a river with other children, and they may have been exposed to the bacteria elsewhere. Oregon state health authorities aren’t yet ready to point a finger at the restaurant or any other specific source, said Dr. Paul Cieslak, director of the state health department’s Acute and Communicable Disease Prevention unit. “Our threshold for really looking hard at a restaurant would be cases from separate households,” Cieslak told Food Safety News. “There may be many other usual suspect exposures in an individual case.” It’s typically impossible to identify the source of an infection without triangulating a commonality between at least a handful of cases, he added. With only two known cases in this outbreak so far, health officials may have their work cut out for them in trying to single out a probable source. Illness killed swiftly Travis Profitt said Serena’s infection turned deadly within an incredibly short amount of time. “She went from saying, ‘I love you, daddy,’ to 15 hours later being braindead,” he said. Serena originally went to a hospital in Lincoln City, OR, on Sept. 3 after four days of diarrhea that eventually turned bloody. Profitt said that the hospital staffed claimed to have run an E. coli test among several other tests, but they did not detect the bacteria. When the illness continued days later, Serena’s parents took her to a pediatrician and then another hospital, where the staff immediately suspected a severe E. coli infection and moved her to Doernbecher Children’s Hospital in Portland. She was placed on dialysis upon arrival at Doernbecher on Saturday, Sept. 6. Around 4 or 5 p.m. the next day, she had a minor stroke. Doctors ordered an experimental drug to be delivered by air, but it didn’t come in time. At 4 a.m. on Monday, Serena suffered a massive stroke and was pronounced braindead. Her family agreed to have her taken off life support hours later. Profitt said the family has appreciated the “phenomenal outreach” and support from their community. He said parents need to hold the medical community accountable to better test for bacteria like E. coli, and that his niece might still be alive if the cause of her illness had been detected sooner. “This should remind parents that this isn’t a joke,” he said. The state of Oregon has connected 20 deaths to E. coli since 1992, according to a state health department spokesman.