The Charlotte Observer in an article this week said cases of E. coli infection have tripled since last week to 112 as N.C. health officials narrowed their search for the source of bacteria to last month’s State Fair.

State epidemiologist Dr. Jeffrey Engel told the media that they’re investigating all areas where people have contact with animals, including the fair’s two petting zoos and other livestock exhibits, and that contaminated food is also under investigation.

My client Kevin Closson, whose 3-year-old daughter was hospitalized for 16 days and nearly died of kidney failure after visiting the petting zoo at a county fair in August 2002, was quoted in the article. “This is not new,” Closson said, “and people are not learning from the mistakes of other people that run these fair venues.” Closson’s daughter was one of two dozen families Marler Clark represented in the Lane County Fair E. coli outbreak.

In this case, the Charlotte Observer reports that one of the victims is a 21-month-old girl. Several kids have been hospitalized with HUS.

As I told Karen Garloch of the Observer:

“We the public have not kept up with the virulence of E. coli O157:h7 … If you talk to every one of the parents from the Oregon case, they had no idea that this could happen,” Marler said.

“When I used to take animals to the county fair, when I was a kid, no one ever heard of E. coli.”