Gaston County 2-year-old dies from E. coli outbreak

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SHELBY, N.C. -- North Carolina health officials have identified a toddler who is the first in the state to die from an E. coli outbreak that appears to have originated from a county fair.

Similar to others who have suffered from the bacterial infection, Gage Lefevers, a 2-year-old from Gaston County, attended the Cleveland County Fair west of Charlotte more than one week ago. The boy's death was announced over the weekend as the number of reported cases rose to 21.

Including Lefevers, a total of 7 adults and 14 children have suffered from related symptoms.

Hannah Roberts, 5, of Gastonia, and Jordan McNair, 12, are currently fighting a life-threatening strain that affects the kidneys. The Gaston Gazette reports Roberts has been in the hospital since Tuesday. WBTV reports McNair is "said to be slowly improving."

The farthest reported case is in York County, S.C.

While officials have found all those suffering from E. coli symptoms attended the fair, they have yet to determine the exact source of the outbreak.

Wednesday will mark 11 days since the fair concluded, which means the incubation period for the infection will have ended.

While no new direct cases should be expected following the incubation period, E. coli can still be passed from one person to another.

Cleveland County Fair director Calvin Hastings says organizers tried to prevent any outbreak by installing hand-washing stations and separating food and livestock areas.