SHELBY, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina health officials say an E. coli outbreak is responsible for the illness of 13 people who attended the Cleveland County Fair.

State health officials say people from Cleveland, Gaston and Lincoln counties have reported becoming sick after visiting the fair in Shelby.

Several victims were treated and released from hospitals. A 12-year-old Gaston County boy is hospitalized in Charlotte in intensive care.

The bacterium is found in the waste of animals such as cattle, sheep and goats.

State Health Director Laura Gerald says those who touch contaminated material such as food or animals can transfer the bacteria to their mouths, or to other people.

Eight children and five adults have become sick. Eight are from Cleveland County, four from Gaston County, and one from Lincoln County.

(© Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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