by Doug Powell
As the number of confirmed and probable E. coli cases linked to the Cleveland County Fair petting zoo in North Carolina increased to 61, Sue Lynn Ledford, Wake County’s health director, said the NC State Fair, home to two similar outbreaks, is “being about as stringent as you can be without just totally taking away the core components of what the fair is about.”
“It’s just unbearable at times,” Tracy Roberts, the mother of 5-year-old Hannah Roberts, said, who was sickened at the Cleveland County Fair. “You lose it. You have your moments where you just want to fall on the floor and cry. And then you have moments that you feel strong – we’re going to make this, we’re going to get through it.”
Hannah Roberts is on daily kidney dialysis. Hannah’s parents said they hope she will move out of the ICU Tuesday night to another floor. They said she’s weak but able to talk and even ate a little bit on Tuesday. Both Tracy Roberts and her husband Mike said the support they’ve received from family, friends, and even strangers on Facebook is amazing. They said Hannah went to the petting zoo area but a noise scared her and she didn’t touch anything. Tracy Roberts said she still washed Hannah’s hands. She said her daughter did ride several rides, though, and officials say the E. coli bacteria is easily transferable.
Cleveland County Fair Director Calvin Hastings said he doesn’t know what the exact source of the outbreak is.
Family said 12-year-old Jordan McNair just had his feeding tube removed but is still in a medically induced coma. The son of Cleveland County Sheriff Alan Norman, 13-year-old Alex Norman, is under close supervision at home, where they’re keeping him hydrated. Thoughts are also with the family that lost a child to the outbreak: 2-year-old Gage Lefevers. His father is a Gastonia police officer and on Tuesday the department announced it had helped set up a memorial fund that people can donate toward at any Wells Fargo bank to help pay for hospital and funeral expenses.
A year after a little boy, Hunter Tallent, got sick from an E. coli outbreak at the NC state fair, his family is suing. The family attorney plans to go after not only the state, but the commissioner of agriculture, the manager of the state fair and others.
A table of petting zoo outbreaks is available at http://bites.ksu.edu/petting-zoos-outbreaks.
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