For more information about the risks of petting zoos, see Fair Safety Dot Com.

In 2006 there were three E. coli cases linked to the State Fair. Officials believe it to be tied to a pita stand. In 2004, 108 cases of E. coli were reported, all linked to the petting zoo at the State Fair.  After the 2004 outbreak, officials at the State Fair installed hand-washing stations with sinks, soap, and water around the petting zoo and near animal exhibits.

According to press reports, officials with the North Carolina Division of Public Health say eight of the nine people affected by E. coli attended the State Fair, but officials have not determined an exact source.

On Wednesday health officials said seven cases were reported in Wake County, one in Johnston County, and a child out of Cleveland County who also reported visiting the State Fair. Those that have been infected by the O157:H7 strain of the bacteria range in ages from two months to 62 years old.

Health officials conducted patient interviews to see if there was a link between the cases. Right now, the only common thread between those eight people is that they went to the fair and there are multiple sources to be considered. The investigation is still in its early stages and could take weeks to complete.

Four people were hospitalized. Two have been released and two children remain in intensive care with hemolytic uremic syndrome.