Cleveland County Fair E. coli Outbreak
At least 106 people, including 13 who were hospitalized and a 2-year-old who died, became ill with E. coli O157:H7 infections after visiting the 2012 Cleveland County Fair in North Carolina. The Cleveland County Fair, which boasted 5 animal petting areas, was held September 27 - October 7.
Reported E. coli infections by county include:
- Cleveland County – 61
- Gaston County – 15
- Lincoln County – 14
- Catawba County – 2
- Union County – 2
- Rutherford – 7
- York County, South Carolina – 2
- Cherokee County, South Carolina – 3
The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services announced that it does not anticipate many new cases associated with exposure at the Cleveland County Fair to be reported; however, several weeks may pass before secondary exposure from an infected individual to another person will be ruled out as a source of E. coli exposure.
Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome
Hemolytic uremic syndrome, or HUS, is a complication of E. coli that can lead to kidney failure, central nervous system impairment, and death. Children, the elderly, and anyone with a compromised immune system is more likely to develop HUS; however, it is most common among children.
Past North Carolina Fair and Petting Zoo E. coli Outbreaks
In 2011, at least 27 North Carolina residents became ill with E. coli O157:H7 infections after visiting the N.C. State Fair. The Kelley Building, a permanent structure on the fairgrounds, was the most likely source of that E. coli outbreak.
In 2004, at least 108 E. coli cases were associated with a petting zoo at the N.C. State Fair. 15 people became ill with hemolytic uremic syndrome and one child died.
After the 2004 fair outbreak, Aedin’s Law was passed in honor of 2-year-old Aeden Gray, one of 15 children whose exposure to E. coli O157:H7 at the North Carolina State Fair led to Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome and kidney failure.