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Investigators link raw milk cheese to E. coli outbreak in France

Investigators in France have confirmed a link between the cases of several children with a disease that destroys blood-clotting cells, causes low red blood counts and kidney failure and the consumption of cheese made with raw milk.

The investigations carried out by Santé Publique France have confirmed an epidemiological link between these cases and the consumption of reblonchon, the cheese made with raw milk.

In a follow-up on the E.coli O26 outbreak in France earlier this year, investigators learned that some children with Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome were infected with E.coli bacteria with the same characteristics.

The link was identified by the National Center for reference E. coli and its associated laboratory, the Institute Pasteur in Paris, and theMicrobiology Laboratory of Robert Debra Hospital also in Paris.

These investigations led to the withdrawal of the sale and the recall of all raw milk reblochons manufactured on the Cruseilles (Haute-Savoie) site of Chabert. Canadian officials initiated a precautionary recall of the cheese in that country, citing the outbreak in France. In France, more than 350 tons of cheese were recalled.

As of June 15,  there were 15 children ages 1 to 5 included in the investigation of this outbreak. Of the 15 who ate the suspect cheese, 12 were affected by the same strain of E. coli O26 and of those, one suffered from diarrhea and 11 developed HUS. One of the 11 died.

Of the other three children, two are infected with an E. coli strain O26 different from that of the other 12 children, and for one child no strain could be isolated. The distribution of cases is nationwide.

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