State Health Department says E. coli outbreak is spreading

Credit: AP

Echerichia coli are bacteria in feces of animals like cattle, sheep and goats and can be spread from person to person.


by RAD BERKY / NBC Charlotte

Bio | Email | Follow: @RadBerkywcnc

Posted on October 11, 2012 at 12:39 PM

Updated Thursday, Oct 11 at 10:54 PM

SHELBY, N.C. -- State health officials said Thursday the E. coli outbreak is growing, with 13 people sickened in Cleveland, Gaston and Lincoln counties.

Authorities said all of those sickened attended the Cleveland County Fair.

"Well, it's scary. I'm glad I didn't go this year," said Leigh Ann Strickland, a Cleveland County resident.

Eight of those sickened are children and five are adults.

While all of them had been to the fair, health inspectors don't know yet what it was at the fair that was to blame for the outbreak.

"Was it the food? Was it the petting zoo? Was it something else that we haven't even considered yet?" said Chris Dobbins, the Health Director of Gaston County, where there have been four reported E. coli cases.

North Carolina State Health Director Laura Gerald said, "We are working with county health departments, hospitals and physicians in the region to identify any additional cases related to this outbreak."

The symptoms of E. coli can vary but can include stomach cramps, vomiting and diarrhea.

"That kind of scared me. I did go every day but so far I'm feeling fine," said Haley Wilson, who works in a store in Shelby where she said everyone is talking about the outbreak.

Wilson said she remembered to wash her hands when she left the petting zoo and was always careful about where she stopped to snack.

"I'm picky about where I eat and if the sanitation grade is low, I don't eat there. I'm very picky."

And there are those who said they would now think twice about going to the fair in the future.

"I think I don't want to eat there. I can eat at home," said Shelby resident Bobby Flint.