State officials said nine of 16 cases of E. coli bacteria around the state, including a sick Mecklenburg toddler, may be linked to the petting zoo at the N.C. State Fair.
A spokeswoman stopped short of saying the outbreak stemmed from the fair, but “I know that nine of them did attend the state fair” and more than one said they had been to the petting zoo.
E. coli is found in feces, and humans become ill if they drink or eat anything containing the bacteria. The most common way to contract it is from improperly cooked or handled food, but it can be passed on from animals.
The N.C. State Fair ran Oct. 15-24 in Raleigh. More than 800,000 people attended.
“Obviously, we’re concerned,” said Brian Long, a spokesman for the state Department of Agriculture, which organizes the fair. “We are very interested in the progress of the public health investigation.”
Carmel Clements, Mecklenburg County’s director of communicable disease control, said a 21-month-old girl who has E. coli had gone to the petting zoo at the fair.
“There is a connection” to the other reported cases, she said. “If it turns out to be the same strain, I don’t know.”