E. coli cases rise to 20 with six children hospitalized, health officials say

by: Jeff Smith Updated:

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. —

UPDATE: Health department officials said there are four additional cases Saturday in the E. coli outbreak. There are now 20 cases.

Fourteen are children and six are adults, according to a news release from the Division of Public Health of the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services.

In Lincoln County, the total has raised to five, up from three. In Cleveland County, there are nine, which is up from seven. Five are in Gaston County and one in York County.

Six children are hospitalized.

 

A toddler linked to the E. coli outbreak died Friday, according to his family. Gage Lefevers was one of 16 people linked to the outbreak at the Cleveland County Fair.

The number of people sick from E. coli jumped on Friday from 13 to 16, according to health officials. All are connected to last week's fair.

There's now a small fraternity of families at Levine Children's Hospital in Charlotte with loved ones sick from E. coli.

"It's sad that I have to meet such nice people, in a situation like this," said Beth McNair, whose 12-year-old son Jordan is in critical condition.

Strangers just a week ago, three families have bonded over cafeteria meals and bedside visits together.

"We want to be there for each other, the best we can. I want to hold their hand as they held mine," McNair said.

Going to the local fair is an American tradition -- something both kids and parents look forward to all year long.

"I can't imagine what that family is going through. Because I'm a step away. My son could go either way," McNair said, fighting back tears.

Many other children are sick, including 5-year-old Hannah Roberts.

"No amount of fun, or whatever it is you think you are having, is worth see your child laying in the bed fighting for her life," said her mother Tracey Roberts.

"It is the scariest thing in my life that I have ever been through," she added.

Hannah's recovering at the hospital, along with 12-year-old Jordan McNair.

"His numbers are looking better. He's fighting," his mom said.

Health officials haven't been able to narrow down where the deadly bacteria came from.

The Health Department sent out an eight-page questionnaire to everyone who got sick at the fair.

On Friday they also sent out that questionnaire to people who went to the fair and are still healthy.