July 17, 2018

Raw Milk Warning Comes After E.coli HUS Sickens 4 Kids in KY

A raw milk warning has been issued in Kentucky after five children got E.coli poisoning and four of them were hospitalized with hemolytic uremic syndrome, (HUS) a form of kidney failure that can be fatal. The Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services issued the warning today after weeks of investigating the outbreak.

E coli bacteria“At this time, we know that all of the children consumed unpasteurized milk, which is different from the milk and dairy products you purchase at the grocery store,” said DPH Commissioner Stephanie Mayfield, M.D. “Unpasteurized milk is dangerous and has not undergone a process to kill bacteria before it is consumed, meaning it could contain disease-causing agents such as E. coli. The health of anyone who drinks unpasteurized milk can be affected if they are exposed to E. coli or other bacteria that can cause very serious illness, but the risk is even greater for children.”

Laws governing the sale of raw milk vary from state to state. In Kentucky, the sale of raw milk is illegal. However, some consumers obtain it through buying clubs or herd-share programs.

“Raw milk, no matter how carefully it is produced, may contain pathogens,” said Mayfield. “Just as we recommend that you don’t eat raw hamburger, pork or fish, we also advise that consumers don’t drink raw, unpasteurized milk.”

Children under five are at the greatest risk for serious complications from  E. coli infections such as HUS which can cause kidney failure, seizure, stroke, coma and death.

Kentucky health officials say confirming a direct link to the source of an outbreak can difficult, especially in situations where exposures occurred over a brief window of time. Lab tests have not yet shown a definitive link to the milk that all of the children drank before becoming ill.

 

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