Officials narrow E. coli cases linked to outbreak to 98



CLEVELAND COUNTY, N.C. - The E. coli cases linked to a local outbreak have been narrowed down to 98, state health officials said on Monday.

The number had been 106, but it decreased because of laboratory evidence to narrow the criteria for cases included in the outbreak, officials said.

The 98 people who are or have been affected attended the Cleveland County Fair. Officials said preliminary findings suggest animal exposure may be the source of the outbreak.

On Monday, fair operators announced they are shutting down the Cleveland County fairgrounds until the state determines what caused the E. coli outbreak.

The director of Hog Happening has held the benefit barbecue at the fairgrounds for the past 20 years, but this year they decided to change locations after hearing about the outbreak.

Sixty children and 38 adults are or have been affected by the outbreak.

Five-year-old Hannah Roberts is one of the people who went to the fair and contracted E. coli. She has been in the hospital for more than two weeks and is being released to go home on Monday.

Kimberly Perkins of Lincolnton first saw pictures of Hannah on Eyewitness News during our coverage of the E. coli outbreak.

“She loves princesses so we got her some princess balloons,” Perkins said.

A friend told her that Hannah wanted to ride home from the hospital in a pink limousine. They are hard to find, but Perkins, an executive with Mary Kay, has a pink Cadillac, so she plans to drive Hannah and her family home on Monday.

“I wanted to be able to help her any way that I could,” Perkins said. “I am thankful for the opportunity to be able to do this.”

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