I remember the names of every kid that died from shiga-toxin producing E. coli that I have had the honor to represent in the last 21 years.  I still think about what their ages were then and what their ages would be now and how that related to the ages of my three daughters then and their ages now.

I remember the parents too – making impossible decisions in an ICU, sharing uncontrollable grief across a kitchen table, and trying to make sense of how doing everything right for their child might have also lead to death.  And, I think about them wanting answers.

Serena Profitt, age four, died a week ago.  It is time to get answers to how she was infected, why she died, and what we can do to prevent it from happening again.

We owe it to all four year olds.

First questions – directed at Washington State and Oregon State Departments of Health – What is the connection between Aubrie Utter, age 3, Brad Sutton, age 5 and Serena? My, answers, not theirs in italics.

How long until you get presumptive positive stool culture for E. coli?

1 day (ideally clinical lab is running both culture and Shiga toxin immunoassay); add extra 1-2 days if pure colonies need to be isolated before shipment to state Public Health lab.

Positive? Or Negative?

If culture positive, shipped to Public Health lab for confirmation (shipping time plus biochemical/PCR: 1-2 days); if culture negative, culture-independent immunoassay positive then enrichment broth shipped to state Public Health lab for culture with IMS and confirmation (shipping plus enrichment/IMS/biochem/PCR: 2-3 days).

How long for PFGE?

At least 2-3 days including analysis.

How long for MLVA?

1 day is possible for both data and analysis

How long for Genetic Sequencing?

1 day possible for data, but multiple days needed for analysis

It has now been weeks.  These parents should have answers already.