State health officials: no additional cases yet in NC E. coli O157 outbreak

During an outbreak health departments often clam up, wait to go public when they have everything in order (which could take weeks) and fail to update on information until the media calls. Not so much here in North Carolina. Each day since an E. coli O157:H7 outbreak affecting up to 24 State Fair visitors was announced last week,  health officials, led by state epidemiologist Dr. Megan Davies have held daily briefings and been available for questions. A great management practice that takes extra effort from investigators but allows for more complete communication to interested folks — including the families of those affected.

In today’s briefing, according to NBC 17, Dr. Davies said that nine illnesses are now confirmed with an additional 15 suspected cases.

State Epidemiologist Dr. Megan Davies says the latest numbers are lower compared to those given out last week. She said this is due to the investigation process as they were able to determine that they were not part of this outbreak.

There have been no new cases reported over the weekend.

"It is encouraging that there isn’t an increasing roar of new cases," said Dr. Davies.

Officials have determined that all nine people with confirmed cases reported attending the State Fair. Although interviews are still ongoing an exact source still has not been determined. Interviews continue to take place and all 24 individuals will be re-interviewed. Staff members will also interview approximately 70 people that attended the fair, but did not show any symptoms.

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About Ben Chapman

Dr. Ben Chapman is a professor and food safety extension specialist at North Carolina State University. As a teenager, a Saturday afternoon viewing of the classic cable movie, Outbreak, sparked his interest in pathogens and public health. With the goal of less foodborne illness, his group designs, implements, and evaluates food safety strategies, messages, and media from farm-to-fork. Through reality-based research, Chapman investigates behaviors and creates interventions aimed at amateur and professional food handlers, managers, and organizational decision-makers; the gate keepers of safe food. Ben co-hosts a biweekly podcast called Food Safety Talk and tries to further engage folks online through Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and, maybe not surprisingly, Pinterest. Follow on Twitter @benjaminchapman.