A toddler died and her five-year-old brother was left fighting for his life after being struck down with a deadly virus while petting animals. Kade and Kallan Maresh were rushed to hospital, where doctors found they were both suffering from acute kidney failure after becoming infected with E.coli, which had led to haemolytic uraemic syndrome (HUS).

The children’s parents, Joe and Tyffani Maresh, from Minnesota, US, said they are “heartbroken” after Kallan, three, died last week. Kade, five, is still fighting for his life in hospital and is currently on kidney dialysis. The cause of the infection is still unknown but initial reports suggest the youngsters may have contracted it after coming into contact with animals at a petting zoo. Health officials said the animals at the zoo had been taken off display as a “precaution”.

E.coli can be caught from touching infected animals or coming into contact with their faeces, with most cases developing at petting farms and campsites.   Heartbroken Tyffani said of Kallan’s death: “The toxin from the bacteria not only damaged Kallan’s kidneys but also her neurological system.  Her brain and heart were being damaged. Our sweet sweet little girl lost the battle and went to heaven last night.  Joe and I are so deeply hurt from sadness. It is absolutely heart breaking watching your babies in so much pain and being so helpless.”