CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The E. coli outbreak stemming from the Cleveland County fair is still spreading but health department officials believe the source may have been the petting zoo.
As of Tuesday, 46 people were sick. A toddler lost his life and nine other children were still in the hospital, including 5-year-old Hannah Roberts.
Her parents tiptoe into her room at Levine Children's Hospital to check on her throughout the day. Tuesday afternoon, she was sleeping peacefully, something her parents said hasn't happened much in the last week.
“It just tears their body apart,” said Hannah's mom, Tracy. "It’s like a little monster inside of you.”
Hannah's father, Mike, said, “The virus is so bad there are times you get a glimmer of hope. You think 'Hey, she’s coming out of it' and then it just hits her again and it gets worse.”
Hannah is on dialysis, but her parents said she is finally improving after nine days in the hospital.
“She still has a long road and we know that but we’ve got some encouragement to hold on to,” Tracy said. “It’s been the hardest thing I’ve ever dealt with in my life. Knowing your child is sick and you can’t do anything to help them.”
The family received some more encouragement late Tuesday night -- Hannah had improved enough to be moved out of the ICU.