At least seven people, most of them children, have been infected by E. coli in an outbreak that may point to the North Carolina State Fair’s petting zoo.
State health officials alerted local physicians, health departments and hospitals this weekend to be on the lookout for more cases. Doctors already are awaiting test results in several other suspected cases. Health officials are also urging parents to keep sick children at home.
E. coli — a type of bacteria found in the intestines of otherwise healthy livestock — are spread through feces and can cause severe nausea and bloody diarrhea. An infection can be particularly harmful to young children.
Nearly all of the confirmed cases are children, state officials said. Of the confirmed cases, two are in Wake County, two are in Lee County, one is in Wilson County and two are in Mecklenburg County.
State Fair officials have tried to alert the owners of the petting zoo animals, R.W. Commerford and Sons of Connecticut, of a potential problem. These animals — goats, lambs, pigs and a few zebras and antelope — travel the fair circuit up and down the East Coast, State Fair manager Wesley Wyatt said.