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E. coli Cases May Be Linked To State Fair Food Stand

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RALEIGH, N.C. — Three cases of E. coli in Wake County could be linked to a State Fair food stand, health officials said.

Two adults and a teenager got sick after eating chicken pita sandwiches from a food vendor, who wasn't identified, near Dorton Arena. Two of them were hospitalized, authorities said.

The 13-year-old was hospitalized for five days and returned to school Thursday.

Wake County health officials are still trying to determine whether the three people became sick by the same strain of E. coli bacteria. Because the bacteria usually makes people sick within 10 days, no new cases are expected to surface.

The bacteria can cause bloody diarrhea and abdominal cramps and, in severe cases, can cause kidney failure.

The three E. coli cases were not severe, said Dr. David Damsker, Wake County's lead community health physician.

The vendor had passed daily health inspections and closed days before the illnesses were investigated, making it impossible to test the lettuce or tomatoes, Damsker said. Chicken is not a common source of E. coli exposure, he said. It's also possible the three people were exposed to E. coli elsewhere, he said.

In 2004, 108 cases of E. coli were linked to a State Fair petting zoo. At least 14 children required kidney dialysis after the bacteria caused serious complications.

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