- Associated Press - Monday, July 20, 2015

WEST FARGO, N.D. (AP) - State health officials said Monday that they are investigating a cluster of E. coli cases in which all three people who became ill had attended a fair in eastern North Dakota.

The three cases involve individuals younger than 18 years old who attended the Red River Valley Fair in West Fargo, according to the state Department of Health. The fair was held July 7 through 12.

State epidemiologist Michelle Feist said the department is in the early stages of the investigation and urged people who experience diarrhea or bloody diarrhea for more than 24 hours within 10 days of attending the fair to contact health officials.

“Although the cases reported having contact with animals while at the fair, we are looking into other possible exposures as well,” Feist said in a statement.

E. coli is a bacterial infection that can cause diarrhea, abdominal cramping, nausea and vomiting. Symptoms can be severe resulting in dehydration and electrolyte imbalances.

Officials say one of the people who became ill after attending the fair has been diagnosed with hemolytic uremic syndrome, a severe complication that can cause kidney damage and failure.

Representatives of the Red River Valley Fair Association did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

E. coli is shed in the stool of infected animals and people. Infections can result from consuming contaminated food or water, and from coming into contact with animals that are carrying the bacteria. They can be spread from person to person through inadequate hygiene.

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