Public health officials in the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services are working with local health departments in Gaston, Cleveland and Lincoln counties to investigate an outbreak of E. coli infection among people who attended the Cleveland County Fair between September 26 and October 7. As of noon on Thursday, October 11, 8 children and 5 adults are known to have been sickened in the outbreak. Eight of the illnesses are in Cleveland County residents, four are in Gaston County residents, and one case is from Lincoln County.

According to State Health Director Laura Gerald, the State Laboratory for Public Health has confirmed two of the patients have E. coli O157:H7 infections. Escherichia coli are bacteria found in the feces of animals such as cattle, sheep and goats. If people touch contaminated material, food or animals, they can transfer the bacteria from their hands to their mouths, or to others.

“We are working with county health departments, hospitals and physicians in the region to identify any additional cases related to this outbreak,” Gerald said. “We also caution the public to be aware of the symptoms of E. coli infection and to contact their doctor or local health department if they are experiencing symptoms or illness.”

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