RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) -- State health officials say animal contact is a likely source of an E. coli outbreak linked to the Cleveland County Fair.
A statement from the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services on Friday said 64 children and 42 adults have been affected by this outbreak. A 2-year-old died of complications from the bacterial illness.
Officials said 12 individuals have been or are currently hospitalized.
State Health Director Laura Gerald said while progress is being made in an investigation into the outbreak, a specific cause hasn't been determined.
Public health officials expect the number of cases associated directly with the fair will soon stop growing, but it is possible that secondary cases, or those passed from person to person, may appear for several more weeks.
5-year-old victim thought she was dying
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Health officials expect the numbers of new cases being reported to slow down, but that’s little comfort to the Roberts family.
“She is starting to take a turn for the better,” said Hannah Roberts’ mom, Tracy.
Pictures of Hannah on Thursday are dramatically different from just a few days ago.
“She’s eating a little bit. She’s actually asking for some shrimp sauce and rice,” her mom said.
She's even wearing the princess costume the hospital gave her.
“I brought it in, she lit up. I put the little crown on her. She was just real happy, she’s starting to come back to our Hannah,” added her mom.
Thursday was the first day Hannah did not need dialysis. The little girl has had a rough 10 days as the E. coli infection battered her body. At just five years old, she seems to know just how serious this is.
“She said, ‘Will you pray for me, I'm dying.’ And at that moment I lost it...and I said, ‘What did you say?’ She said, ‘Pray for me I’m dying.’ I said, ‘No baby, you're not,’” her mother added.
In fact, Tracy seems to be doing much better. Six kids have been at Levine Children’s Hospital in Charlotte fighting the infection and pediatric neprhologist Dr. Jack Weaver is treating them all.
“In general, everybody seems to be moving in the right direction but there are a couple of kids where things are still pretty dicey,” he said.
He says of the 81 current cases linked to the outbreak, these kids are facing the most serious complications.
Mike Roberts is just grateful his daughter seems to be rallying. He knows because for the first time since she got sick the two did their ritual goodbye kiss.
“We do that any time we leave. Any time we’re separated. First time yesterday she was able to do that again and it felt really good,” he said.
State health officials believe animal exposure is the source of the outbreak.