Memorial Services for Serena Profitt, forever 4 years old, of Otis, are being held today (Saturday) at 2pm, Faith Baptist Church in Lincoln City. The church, at 5750 Highway 101, will gather family and friends of Serena’s who have been in anguish at the death of little Serena from E coli poisoning. Family and friends described Serena as a bubbly, loving and joyful little girl who was exposed to the toxic bacteria sometime in late August while visiting with family and friends. Health officials say that Serena and a five year old boy both came down with the bacterial infection at the same time. The boy is reportedly recovering at a Seattle area hospital.
When Serena became lethargic and suffering stomach cramps, her parents took her to the North Lincoln Hospital Emergency Room. There, she was diagnosed with a rotavirus, a stomach disorder common among children and the elderly. Her family said they were told that it would soon pass. A day or two later when Serena was still suffering the illness, they took her to a pediatrician who, the family says, also diagnosed her as suffering from a rotavirus and sent her home saying she’d get over it.
The next day the family raced her up Highway 18 to Willamette Valley Medical Center in McMinnville where they immediately diagnosed her with an advanced case of E coli poisoning and rushed her to a children’s hospital in Portland where, despite valiant efforts to save her, she died a short time later.
County and state health officials continue to try to track the source of the deadly bacteria that killed Serena. Those officials have cleared the Roadhouse 18 restaurant where family members contended that she and her male playmate had shared the same turkey sandwich. Health officials report they found no sign of any contamination nor any absence of food preparation regulations as specified under their restaurant license. It was later learned that Serena and the boy had swam in local body of water in the area that might have been the source of the E coli. Those water bodies were also checked but by then the exposure to the E coli was pushing two weeks prior. They found no E coli.
Health officials reminded the public this past week that tracking down such incidents is very difficult unless at least 10 people come down with the same illness. They need a large number of victims to have had the very same exact experience with something very specific to give them a high probability of its source. Too few victims too often end up with more question marks than answers.
One thing that investigators can point to however, is that the strain of E coli the two children suffered is most commonly found in contaminated food. Health officials also say that there were no other cases of E coli in the area at the time that Serena and her friend came down with their infections. Officials remind everyone that preparing food for any occasion absolutely requires a thorough hand wash before anyone lays a hand on something that’s about to be eaten at home, at a picnic or in a restaurant.
One health official told a news conference in Newport that they may never be able to conclusively prove exactly where the bacteria came from.
Meanwhile a memorial fundraiser is ongoing at Go Fund Me to help Serena’s parents pay for the medical and funeral bills they face since Serena’s passing. Anyone who would like to donate a dollar or a thousand times that can do so by clicking here.