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Three Ill with E. coli in Wisconsin, Raw Milk Suspected

Health officials in Wisconsin suspect three patients sickened by the same strain of E. coli O157:H7 contracted their illnesses after consuming raw milk, Wisconsin Department of Agriculture spokeswoman Raechelle Cline told Food Safety News Thursday.

All three patients reside in Manitowoc County, and they include a three year-old child and his or her mother.

Officials are currently testing samples of milk from the suspected dairy and will not identify it unless they prove a connection.

“Raw milk was the most likely commonality we’ve been able to identify,” Cline said.

The illnesses occurred in March, and the officials are unaware of any additional cases.

Health institutions such as the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advise against drinking raw milk, as it has not been pasteurized to eliminate potentially harmful pathogens.

© Food Safety News
  • Russell La Claire

    How anyone who knows the possibility of drinking raw milk will kill them and does so anyway is perplexing. But, to feed it to children borders on the criminal.

  • ChurnYourOwn

    My issue with this type of reporting, as always, is your last sentence. What value does that sentence add to your article? Are you simply a government mouthpiece or are you a journalist? If you’re a journalist, then why aren’t you trying to be more balanced? Why don’t you also point out that ALL raw foods carry the risk of pathogens when produced under unsanitary conditions? For example, take a look at your other report today on cucumbers, which have apparently sickened FAR MORE people, and some were even hospitalized, due to a pathogen that can also be prevented through pasteurization. Why don’t you end *that* article by advising readers “against eating raw cucumbers, which have not been pasteurized to eliminate potentially harmful pathogens?? ”

    I’m sorry to be so critical. I do appreciate the information on this site. It’s just the reports about raw milk that I find so incredibly biased and misleading.

    • Hi ChurnYourOwn,

      Thank you for your comment — we certainly see where you’re coming from and agree that there is an inherent risk in eating any raw food, though not all raw foods are considered equally risky.

      Food Safety News tends to include the advice of the CDC in its raw milk reporting because raw milk is widely considered one of the riskiest foods one can consume, and it is one of the few foods that public health agencies make a concerted effort to warn consumers about. The CDC and other health agencies have documented at least 119 illness outbreaks linked to unpasteurized milk and cheeses between 1998 and 2012 (http://www.foodpoisonjournal.com/uploads/image/raw-dairy-outbreak-table.pdf), and several outbreaks have already been reported in 2013. In 2012, raw milk was found to have sickened at least 152 individuals — some of whom were very severely hospitalized. Certainly, the majority of those who drink raw milk do not fall ill, but given the relatively high number who do get sick in comparison to the total number that consume raw milk, health agencies consider it an especially risky food.

      By comparison, the cucumber outbreak reported yesterday is the first known foodborne illness outbreak ever linked to cucumbers. (That’s as far as the FSN staff can tell, at least. Cucumbers were originally suspected as the source of the massive German E. coli outbreak of 2011 until sprouts were determined to be the real culprit.)

      Our reporting on live poultry outbreaks also tends to include CDC advice for safe handling of live chicks and ducklings, another activity considered by health professionals to put individuals at a relatively higher risk of infection.

  • donrobertson

    If pasteurised milk tops your list of processed foods, I think you are probably okay.

  • “And of course you shouldn’t drink the milk from sick cows.” This has nothing to do with sick cows. Unless the cow has mastitis, the raw milk can get contaminated with Escherichia coli O157, Campylobacter, and Salmonella, etc., from the cow’s environment, even if it is a
    pasture-raised cow and the dairy took every precaution. Just look at the recent raw milk outbreaks and how careful they all thought they were being before their milk was recalled.