Consumption of raw milk or a raw milk product was a common denominator among three Central Missouri E. coli O157:H7 outbreak victims, but officials said they are still trying to determine the source of the pathogen. All together, five Missourians have been infected by the same strain of the bacteria.
The three outbreak victims who consumed raw milk or raw milk products live in Boone County, including a 2-year-old who was hospitalized with a confirmed or suspected case of hemolytic uremic syndrome, HUS.
The two other case patients live in Cooper and Howard counties, including a 17-month-old toddler who also was hospitalized with HUS, a life-threatening complication of toxic E. coli infection most likely to affect children under 5 years of age. The illnesses have occurred since late March.
Raw milk E. coli outbreaks are nothing new. Shiga toxin-producing E. coli, Campylobacter and Salmonella are the three most common types of enteric bacteria that cause raw milk outbreaks of gastrointestinal illness. The bugs grow harmlessly in the guts of cows and are expelled in their feces, which is impossible to keep out of the milk supply. If the milk is pasteurized, the flash-heating process is enough to kill the harmful bacteria. But raw milk is not subjected to this kill step, giving possible pathogens a place to harbor and multiply.
National food safety lawyer Fred Pritzker recently debated raw milk advocates as an invited guest at Harvard University Law School. His firm, PritzkerOlsen, P.A., is investigating the Central Missouri E. coli outbreak and accepting calls from people whose loved ones have fallen ill. Mr. Pritzker is one of the few U.S. trial lawyers practicing extensively in the area of food-borne illness litigation and his firm has collected millions for victims of E. coli O157:H7 and other types of food poisoning. Call 1-888-377-8900 (Toll Free) or leave your contact information and Fred or another attorney from the firm will call you.