The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services released a statement saying that the number of E. coli cases among people who attended the Cleveland County Fair has grown from 21 to 38. They include 22 children and 16 adults. Eight people have been or were hospitalized; a toddler died on Friday from the infection.
Public health officials are interviewing family members of the patients and information is being analyzed. As of Monday, October 15, 2012, the case counts are as follows: Cleveland County (18), Gaston County (7), Lincoln County (9), Catawba County (1), Union County (1), York County, South Carolina (1), Cherokee County, South Carolina (1). All of the patients attended the Cleveland County Fair in Shelby, North Carolina, September 27 through October 7.
Attorney Fred Pritzker, who has filed lawsuits in situations like this, said, “because symptoms of an E. coli infection can take up to 10 days to manifest, the outbreak will most likely grow.” According to public health officials, no particular food has been identified as the source of the outbreak. Animals carry the E. coli bacteria in their guts and can pass the bacteria through their feces on contaminated surfaces.
One of the complications of the illness is hemolytic uremic syndrome or HUS, that can destroy the kidneys and cause stroke, seizure, and death. Children are more susceptible to this complication than adults. Some HUS victims develop chronic kidney disease. Long term care and follow-up is very important in these cases.
If you attended this fair and have been sick with symptoms including diarrhea which may be bloody, severe stomach cramps, and vomiting, see your doctor as soon as possible. Anyone with an E. coli infection should receive prompt medical treatment.