Health and health care news

State testing confirms that the same strain of E. coli bacteria caused infections that claimed the life of one Maine toddler and hospitalized another.

State epidemiologist Dr. Siiri Bennett says that makes it extremely likely the infections came from the same source.

"We can't say for certain at this time what that common source may have been, and we are continuing our investigation," she says.

The state is testing samples from the Oxford County Fairgrounds, where the two toddlers visited the petting zoo in mid-September.

BIDDEFORD, Maine — School officials say a high school student in Maine has been diagnosed with viral meningitis.

WGME-TV reports Biddeford High School sent a note to parents Thursday saying they're asking students to wash their hands often, cough into their sleeves and not share drinks or utensils to help prevent the disease from spreading.

Biddeford School Superintendent Jeremy Ray says this is the first confirmed case the school has had.

AUGUSTA, Maine — The Maine Family Planning Association has filed suit against the Maine Department of Health and Human Services and Commissioner Mary Mayhew over a five-year dispute over its MaineCare billing practices for women considering abortions.

As far back as 1997, Maine Family Planning says it was advised by DHHS that it could bill MaineCare for services such as ultrasounds, blood tests and birth control.

But Kate Brogan of Maine Family Planning says in 2010, DHHS said the practice was wrong and the organization owed the state nearly $185,000.

PORTLAND, Maine — An E. coli infection claimed the life of a 20-month-old toddler on Monday, and another is in critical condition at Maine Medical Center battling the same illness.

The common link between the cases is that both children visited a petting zoo at a local fair.

As the state investigates to determine the source of the E. coli, physicians are reminding the public about safety measures that can help prevent such infections.

Jon Guay of Poland says he took his son Colton to the Oxford County Fair on two separate days during the third week of September.

OXFORD, Maine - Maine authorities say it will be several days before they comment on the results of an investigation into two cases in which Androscoggin County children were hospitalized with symptoms associated with E. coli.
The agency says both children attended the Oxford County Fair in September and visited animals barns and a petting zoo. A spokesman for the state agriculture department says the state veterinarian went to the fairgrounds on Wednesday to take samples from bedding that will be tested.