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Outbreak News

7 E. coli cases verified in N.C.

At least 2 suspected to be linked with state fair in Raleigh

CARRIE LEVINE

Staff Writer

Charlotte Observer

November 1, 2004

State officials Sunday night said they have confirmed seven cases of E. coli in four counties, including two in Mecklenburg, and at least two cases might be linked to the N.C. State Fair.

A spokeswoman said state health officials are investigating last month's fair in Raleigh as one possible cause of at least two confirmed Wake County cases, and a third suspected case.

"There are three cases that seem to have that in common, but the investigation is not yet done," said Carol Schriber, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Health and Human Services.

The fair ran from Oct. 15 to 24, and drew more than 800,000 people.

Schriber said most of the confirmed cases were children, including the three Wake County cases.

Wake, Lee and Mecklenburg counties each have two confirmed cases, state officials said in a statement. Wilson County has one.

Mecklenburg County health officials said Sunday night they were not yet aware of the new cases. Carmel Clements, the county's director of communicable disease control, said it is possible the county has not yet received the same lab reports as the state.

"At this time, I'm not aware of any new cases," she said. "That could change if there is something that has come up over the weekend."

E. coli symptoms include diarrhea or bloody diarrhea, which can be accompanied by cramps, nausea and vomiting. State officials say prompt medical treatment is essential, especially for children.

E. coli bacteria is found on feces, and people become ill if they eat food or drink water containing the bacteria.

The disease can be contained by isolating E. coli patients and careful hand-washing.

Schriber said it can take two to eight days after exposure for an exposed person to become ill.

In 2002, Robeson County had an outbreak of more than 200 cases, one of the largest in state history. The outbreak started at an elementary school.

Carrie Levine: 704-358-5071; clevine@charlotteobserver.com

More on this outbreak: Crossroads Farm (N.C. State Fair) E. coli Outbreak

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