Posted by Kathy Will on Jul 27, 2010

A boy who fell from a sheep during a Texas rodeo event contracted E. coli and is now fighting for his life in a hospital.

The 3-year-old boy has been at Dell Children’s Medical Center in Austin, Texas, for several weeks and is being transferred this week to Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston for more specialized care. He has been unconscious.

He has hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a life-threatening disease that occurs most often in young children who have E. coli O157:H7 infections. The disease attacks a person’s red blood cells, causing kidney failure, stroke, heart problems, brain damage, central nervous system disorder and anemia.

According to newspaper reports, the boy accidentally ingested dirt from the rodeo floor when he was thrown from a sheep during a mutton-busting event. Public health authorities have long recognized the danger of animal-borne pathogens in live animal settings, including petting zoos and livestock shows.

Cattle and other animals harbor E. coli in their intestines and shed it in their feces. Once in hubans, the bacteria emit a powerful toxin that can get into a person’s bloodstream and wreak havoc all over the body.

The boy’s mother told a reporter that Goldthwaite residents have been holding carwashes and other benefits, selling T-shirts and praying for the youngster since learning of his plight.

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