The Division of Public Health of the New York Department of Health and Human Services in North Carolina has updated the E. coli outbreak linked to the Cleveland County Fair. Now 106 people are ill, including 65 children and 41 adults. Thirteen people have been or are currently hospitalized. One child has died as a result of the infection.
The case counts are as follows by county: Cleveland County (61), Gaston County (15, including one death), Lincoln County (14), Catawba County (2), Union County (2), Rutherford (7), York County, South Carolina (2), Cherokee County, South Carolina (3). The new cases are in Gaston County and Rutherford.
E. coli bacteria produces shiga toxins, which destroy red blood cells and can cause serious complications including hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). Young children, the elderly, and anyone with a chronic medical condition are at high risk for this type of complication. Every year, E. coli infections cause 265,000 illnesses and about 100 deaths.
At this point, transmission of the bacteria is being caused by person-to-person contact. You can help prevent the spread of the bacteria by washing your hands thoroughly after using the bathroom and changing diapers, and washing before preparing and serving food and eating. Anyone who is ill with the symptoms of E. coli food poisoning, including diarrhea which may be bloody, abdominal cramps, and vomiting, should stay home and avoid contact with others until they are well.