The E. coli outbreak linked to the Cleveland County Fair in North Carolina has grown to include 81 people, according to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services. The outbreak is among people who attended the Fair, which ended on October 7, 2012.
Attorney Fred Pritzker, who is accepting cases from the current outbreak, said, “officials think this outbreak may have been caused by contamination in the Cleveland County Fair’s interactive animal exhibits.” An E. coli infection can lead to may long term health problems, including kidney ailments, hypertension, stroke, and heart disease. “It is crucial that anyone sickened in this outbreak get immediate medical care,” he added.
The case count as of 2 pm on October 18, 2012 is: Cleveland County (48), Gaston County (11, with 1 death), Lincoln County (13), Catawba County (1), Mecklenburg (1), Union County (2), Rutherford (2), York County, South Carolina (2), Cherokee County, South Carolina (1). Fifty two of the patients are children, and 29 are adults. Eleven people have been or currently are hospitalized. One toddler has died.
Since the incubation period for E. coli infections, which can be as long as 10 days, has passed, there should not be many new cases associated with the initial exposure at the Fair. But person-to-person transmission can still occur for the next few weeks.
To avoid person-to-person transmission, it’s crucial that people wash their hands, especially after using the bathroom and changing diapers, and before preparing, serving, and eating food. It’s also important that anyone who is ill stay home until 48 hours after symptoms have ended. The symptoms of an E. coli infection include diarrhea, which may be bloody, severe abdominal cramps, nausea, vomiting, and a low grade fever. If you visited the fair and are experiencing these symptoms, see your health care provider immediately.