The Division of Public Health of the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services is investigating the E. coli outbreak among people who visited the Cleveland County Fair in September and early October. As of 1 p.m. October 24, 2012, 62 children and 39 adults are ill with the outbreak strain of the bacteria. Thirteen people have been or are currently hospitalized. One child has died from the infection.
The case counts are as follows: Cleveland County (59), Gaston County (14, including 1 death), Lincoln County (14), Catawba County (2), Union County (2), Rutherford (6), York County South Carolina (2), and Cherokee County South Carolina (2). There is still no word on what caused the outbreak, although officials suspect animals at the fair may be the source.
Attorney Ryan Osterholm, who has filed lawsuits on behalf of clients injured in this manner, said, “these outbreaks can cause serious illness. Anyone who has been sickened in this outbreak should get prompt and thorough medical attention because the consequences of an E. coli-HUS illness can be deadly.”
Public health officials state that the increase in case counts at this point is most likely due to person-to-person transmission. It’s very important that anyone who is ill not prepare food for others, and that they stay home until they are well. Always wash your hands well after using the bathroom and changing diapers and before preparing food.