The E. coli outbreak linked to the Cleveland County fair has grown and has claimed the life of a toddler. Sixteen people in four counties are sick with the dangerous bacteria, and several people are hospitalized with hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a complication of the bacterial infection.
Little Gage Lefevers died on Friday, October 12, 2012. He is one of eight children who have been sickened in this outbreak. Twelve-year-old Jordan McNair is still hospitalized in intensive care, but he is improving.
E. coli bacteria are found in the feces of farm animals such as cows, sheep, and goats. The bacteria is transferred to humans when they touch surfaces that are contaminated with feces, then eat something or touch their mouths. These infections can also be spread person-to-person. Young children are most at risk for complications from these infections. Attorney Fred Pritzker, who has filed lawsuits for families in E. coli outbreaks, said, “state and county fairs have been the source of several serious outbreaks this year. Officials need to be more aggressive with safeguards for fair-goers, including ample hand-washing stations.”
Symptoms of an E. coli infection include diarrhea, which may be bloody, severe stomach cramps, and vomiting. While many people recover on their own, some need to be hospitalized for dehydration and for complications.