The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services on Wednesday named Stroupe Farm in Howard County as the possible source of an ongoing E. coli O157:H7 outbreak in central Missouri.

The health department has also narrowed their outbreak investigation from 15 cases down to 12, removing the three cases that do not share similar lab results, geographic proximity or case history. 

Eight of the 12 individuals reported consuming raw milk or raw milk products from Stroupe Farm. Of the other four, two are related to people who consumed raw milk, while the remaining two have infections that genetically match the others despite the individuals reporting no connection to raw dairy.

According to food safety lawyer Bill Marler, whose law firm underwrites Food Safety News, the fact that individuals do not report consuming raw dairy does not always mean they have no connection.

“In my experience, either people don’t know they consumed raw dairy products or they’re not being truthful to investigators out of a sense of protecting the farmer,” he said.

Early in the investigation, the Missouri State Public Health Laboratory analyzed eight samples of products from the farm, all of which test negative for E. coli O157:H7. Regardless, the owner of the farm has discontinued the sale of raw dairy products, according to state health department spokeswoman Gena Terlizzi.

A 2-year-old who consumed raw milk products has been hospitalized for more than two weeks after developing symptoms of hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a kidney disease associated with severe E. coli infections.

The health department is still investigating the outbreak.