November 26, 2014

MO E. coli Outbreak: Raw Milk Suspected Source

Raw milk is the suspected source of an E.coli outbreak that has sickened several people in northwest Missouri. Raw milk, or milk that has not been pasteurized, can contain E.coli  and other disease-causing bacteria such as Salmonella, Campylobacter, Listera, Yersinia and Brucella. For that reason, the sale of raw milk is illegal in many states.

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In Missouri, it is legal for a farmer to sell raw milk directly to customers of the farm. A bill has been put before the Missouri Legislature to slightly expand a farmer’s ability to sell raw milk, allowing a farmer to sell up to 100 gallons of raw milk or raw cream at farmers’ markets. Raw milk has not been identified as the definitive source of this outbreak but has been characterized by health officials as  “a possible risk factor.”

Symptoms of E. coli infection include severe abdominal cramping, vomiting and  diarrhea, which is sometimes bloody. Young children are at the greatest risk for developing hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). Anyone in these counties who has developed these symptoms should see a health care provider.

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