CLEVELAND COUNTY, N.C. – Health officials say 38 people now have the E. coli infection after an outbreak stemming from the Cleveland County fair.
All of the cases have been linked to the fair, including that of a 2-year-old Gaston County toddler who died Friday night.
On Sunday, there were 20 cases in North Carolina and one case in York, South Carolina. But on Monday afternoon officials announced that 22 children and 16 adults have been affected by the outbreak.
Officials were no closer to learning the source of the outbreak on Sunday but could link all 38 cases to the Cleveland County Fair. More cases are expected until Wednesday, officials said.
"We are working with county health departments, hospitals and physicians in the region to identify any additional cases related to this outbreak," said North Carolina State Health Director Laura Gerald last week.
The 13-year-old son of Cleveland County Sheriff Alan Norman is also battling the infection. The sheriff said his son was at the fair several days and visited the livestock exhibition. The middle schooler started feeling ill last Wednesday.
“This came on extremely fast. All the symptoms it seemed attacked at one time,” Norman said.
The sheriff is grateful his son is well enough that he's at home recovering but they are still waiting on tests to see if he suffered any permanent damage.
Sheriff Norman himself was at the fair almost every day and said he ate 10 different dinners in 10 days but did not get sick.
The symptoms of E. coli can vary but can include stomach cramps, vomiting and diarrhea and could occur as late as 10 days after exposure.
In all, 18 victims are from Cleveland County, seven from Gaston County, nine from Lincoln County and one each from Catawba, Union, York and Cherokee counties.
Gage Lefevers of Bessemer City died at Levine Children's Hospital in Charlotte and will be laid to rest Wednesday at Greene Funeral Service in Gastonia.
Wednesday will mark the point 10 days from when the fair ended.