PERRY, Ga. - State health officials are investigating whether E. coli was spread at the Georgia National Fair held earlier this month.
The Georgia Department of Public Health said it has confirmed four cases of the illness among children who were at the event in Perry from Oct. 7 to Oct. 17, news outlets reported. Three of them are now hospitalized.
E. coli is a bacteria that can cause diarrhea, cramps, nausea, and even kidney damage in some severe cases. It can be passed in several ways, like eating raw vegetables and undercooked ground beef. It can also be spread person-to-person on unwashed hands and surfaces, or by touching animals at petting zoos.
The DPH and the North Central Health District are working with fair staff to determine how the children became infected.
"We are hoping we don’t see any more cases, but we encourage anyone that feels like they may have been infected to contact their primary care physician, " said NCHD spokesperson Michael Hokanson.
Hokanson said they’ve created an online survey that they hope will help them pinpoint the cause of the problem. Anyone who went to the fair can fill it out — even if they did not get sick after the event. State epidemiologists are working to determine what could have caused the outbreak by comparing activities between those who became sick and those who did not.
It takes some people with a mild E.coli infection a week to recover, but young children, elderly adults and people with chronic medical conditions have a higher risk of a severe illness.