State investigates seven E. coli cases in Wake County
Posted October 25, 2011
Updated October 26, 2011
Raleigh, N.C. — The North Carolina Division of Public Health is investigating an E. coli outbreak in Wake County, affecting at least six children and one adult, state health department spokeswoman Renee McCoy said Tuesday.
Four people were hospitalized – two had been discharged and two children were in intensive care Tuesday, McCoy said. The state is working with the Wake County Health Department to determine whether the cases are related.
They were still interviewing patients on Tuesday and awaiting the results of lab tests, which should be completed next week, McCoy said.
E. coli is a serious and potentially lethal form of food poisoning caused by bacteria found in animal feces, according to the state department of Health and Human Services. People can become ill after coming in contact with animal feces or infected food or water. It can also be spread from person to person.
People generally become infected through "improper hygiene habits around preparation of foods," said Sue Lynn Ledford, community health director for Wake County. But, she said, health officials have not gathered enough information to determine a cause for this outbreak.
Symptoms include diarrhea, cramping, fever, nausea and vomiting and usually appear three or four days after exposure.
"It can be a pretty miserable existence for some time," Ledford said.
Anyone experiencing these symptoms should seek immediate medical attention. Ledford also asked anyone who thinks they have E.coli to call the county's communicable disease hotline at 919-250-4462.