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State investigates seven E. coli cases in Wake County

Posted October 25, 2011
Updated October 26, 2011

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— 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.

Two children in ICU after E.coli outbreak in Wake County Two children in ICU after E. coli outbreak in Wake County

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.


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  • kikinc Oct 26, 2011

    buford- You know what the funny thing is about putting tissue down? The toilet seat is usually one of the cleanest places in the bathroom! And it's usually cleaner than your keyboard. Yuck! Yuck! Yuck!

  • anne53ozzy Oct 26, 2011

    There is significant research re antibiotics and livestock. I am not an expert on these matters however much of what I am reading indicates a serious issue with transmission of bacteria from livestock that have been overmedicated and thus may transmit mutant strains through various means that are communicable to people.

  • NoSoupForYou Oct 26, 2011

    I guess you should only eat fried food at the fair. Seems to be the only thing that is cooked with appropriate amount of heat. Lettuce, tomatoes, lemons,... don't get washed enough so anything served in a pita at the fair with lettuce and/or tomatoes and any beverage where you're dropping in a lemon wedge would be suspect.

    No one is going to tell you it's the State Fair unless they are absolutely sure because they don't want to create any negative publicity. Also, they'll slow roll it if it is the fair so that the announcement of e coli and it's subsequent connection is separate in time making the overall impact less.

  • kimisufu Oct 26, 2011

    I guess I don't see why this is such a cause for alarm. EColi and Staph are everywhere! MRSA anyone? Stop using antibacterial everything (it kills the good bacteria), use your entire presciption of antibiotics instead of stopping when you feel better, practice good hygiene especially in public, and the numbers will go down on these outbreaks.

  • 007KnightRider Oct 26, 2011

    I'm sure it's fair related. The timing just seems to close. WRAL dig deeper over 1 Million people could've been exposed.

  • buford Oct 26, 2011

    I check the seat before I sit and wipe it before I leave then wash my hands thoroughly - Just chekkin

    I NEVER sit on a public toilet without putting paper down...

  • fragkitten Oct 26, 2011

    I have been sick with cramping and diarrhea for about 2 days now, started on Monday morning. I have not been anywhere near the fair. I didn't eat as health-ily over the weekend as I usually do so I chalked it up to eating fried foods and things tht aren't my norm. Be interesting to see where this gets traced back to.

  • Wendellcatlover Oct 26, 2011

    I wonder if they've looked into the possibility of the people being exposed at the fair...A few years ago, that's exactly what happened and the timing, being that the fair was here last week, is perfect for them to have been exposed there...the petting zoo perhaps???

  • carolina beach gurl Oct 26, 2011

    How bout instead of a sign that says, no petting the animals, there are no animals to pet? Keep the kids away. It may not have been the fair, but with the timing is the first thing I thought of.

  • RomneyRyan2012 Oct 26, 2011

    I check the seat before I sit and wipe it before I leave then wash my hands thoroughly. I've seen too many people here at school walk out without washing their hands. I try not to use the handrails on stairs, and I push the doors open with my arms. I don't intend to get a flu shot again this year and will do what I need to do to avoid it.