E-coli Outbreak Traced To Fair

Thursday, October 27, 2011 - 12:29pm

Health officials still working to find exact source of contamination.

Officials with the North Carolina Division of Public Health say eight of the nine people affected by E.coli attended the N.C. State Fair, but officials have not determined an exact source.

Those that have been infected by the bacteria range in ages from 2 months to 62 years old.

Three children remain in intensive care.

Health officials conducted patient interviews to see if there was a link between the cases.

Right now, the only common thread between those eight people is that they went to the Fair and there are multiple sources to be considered.

The investigation is still in its early stages and could take weeks to complete.

“Although now, out of a total of nine cases, eight have reported going to the state fair, we haven't ruled out any other exposures and we've learned through long experience to keep a very open mind at the beginning of an outbreak and not to close off avenues too quickly, because that doesn't serve the public good very well,” said Megan Davies, M.D., state epidemiologist for the division of public health.

In 2006 there were three E. coli cases linked to the State Fair.

Officials believe it was tied to a pita stand. In 2004, 108 cases of E. coli were reported, all linked to the petting zoo at the State Fair.

After the 2004 outbreak, Fair officials installed hand-washing stations with sinks, soap and water around the petting zoo and near animal exhibits.

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