Updated 10/12/2012 08:53 PM
E. coli outbreak possibly linked to Cleveland Co. fair, 15 sick several hospitalized
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CLEVELAND COUNTY—A trip to the Cleveland County Fair might be behind an E. coli outbreak that has 15 people sick, and several hospitalized this week.
According to the North Carolina Department of Health, 10 children and five adults were sickened in the suspected outbreak. So far, three of the 15 probable cases have been confirmed. It has been a long three days at Levine Children's Hospital for 5-year-old Hannah Roberts' parents, Mike and Tracy Roberts.
"Scariest thing I've ever in my life been through. I've never seen her this sick, nor would I want to see anybody's children this sick. All for a fun time at the fair, I thought,” said Tracy Roberts.
The family went to the Cleveland County Fair last week. Sunday, Hannah did not feel well and by Tuesday, she had the symptoms of E. coli and went to the hospital.
"She's got blood in her stool, severe cramping and pains, just lethargic. She's just pitiful. I've never seen her this sick,” said Tracy Roberts.
While Hannah did visit the petting zoo, her parents say she didn't touch any animals.
"Then she didn't eat anything at the fair either, so they're saying she must have contracted it from some type of ride by touching a ride or something like that,” said Tracy Roberts.
The Cleveland County Health Department isolated all of the cases of suspected E. coli to the fair, but cannot say whether it was the food or animals that caused the outbreak.
"You don't know what kind of type diseases are at the fair. Who walks in with what, and a lot of people don't know themselves that they have anything, and they're touching everything,” said health director at the Cleveland County Health Department Dorothea Wyant.
Health officials say hand washing is critically important, but at least two families question the availability and quality of the soap at this fair.
“The soap was not adequate. I don’t think it was. It was like they added water to it,” said Tracy Roberts.
As the North Carolina State Fair kicks off in Raleigh this weekend, those impacted by the E. coli outbreak say they want others to be aware of what they are doing and touching at the fair, and make sure they wash their hands regularly, especially before eating.