13 who attended Cleveland Co. fair ill with E. coli, officials say

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GASTON COUNTY, N.C. - Cases of E.coli across the Charlotte area have tripled this week.

Now, 13 cases have been linked to the outbreak, with one thing in common: a local county fair.

Channel 9 is anticipating another update from the health department Friday afternoon.

On Thursday afternoon, health department workers from Gaston, Lincoln, Cleveland and Mecklenburg counties met by phone with the CDC and state health officials to get an update on the situation they are now calling an E.coli outbreak.

Thirteen people got sick after a visit to the Cleveland County Fair.

Hannah Roberts, 5, had similar symptoms. She arrived Tuesday at the Levine Children's Hospital, screaming in pain.  Officials now say Roberts has a fever.

“There is nothing you can do but pray that God will help her,” her grandfather, Glenn Roberts, said.

Eyewitness News told him the number of reported E.coli cases tripled since Wednesday. All of the people involved visited the Cleveland County Fair before they got sick.

“That's just uncalled for,” Roberts said.

The worst case is 12-year-old Jordan McNair. He is in intensive care at Levine, but his grandmother said his heart rate has dropped, and it appears the antibiotics are working.

“They may have turned the corner, finally, to get better,” Bennie McClannon said.

Eight of the people with symptoms of E.coli infection are children, some as young as 2 years old.

“My heart breaks for these children and the parents,” McClannon said.

Gaston County's health director said the disease is most hazardous to young children. Their immune systems are not as strong.

“If they have any kind of symptoms or any doubts whatsoever -- the earlier you identify this, the greater chance you have of reducing the significance of the ailment,” Health Director Chris Dobbins said.

For more information on E. coli, click here.