Fourteen cases of E. coli O157:H7 infection, including at least two severe cases requiring hospitalization, have been confirmed in the central Missouri outbreak linked to unpasteurized milk. A raw milk dairy in Howard County has been implicated as the source of the illnesses.
A 2-year-old from Boone County who was given raw milk developed symptoms of hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a complication of E. coli infection that leads to kidney failure. The child remained hospitalized Wednesday.
All 14 outbreak patients have similar lab results, geographic proximity and/or case history, according to Gena Terlizzi, spokeswoman for the state Department of Health and Senior Services. Last week the state identified the suspect Howard County dairy as Stroupe Farm, which has halted the sale of its unpasteurized products.
Nine of the people sickened acknowledged drinking raw milk, according to DHSS. Five of those ill are from Boone County, three from Cooper, three from Howard and one each from Jackson, Marion and Callaway counties.
Boone County has reported that all five of its outbreak patients consumed milk from the same Howard County farm. “After extensive investigation, this remains the only commonality among the cases,” according to the county’s news release.
The Boone County cases range in age from 2 to 31. Two have been hospitalized.
The Columbia/Boone County Department of Public Health and Human Services noted that a March, 2012 report from the CDC’s Journal of Emerging Infectious Diseases found that the rate of outbreaks caused by raw milk and products from it was 150 times greater than outbreaks linked to pasteurized milk.
“Persons interested in purchasing unpasteurized milk should consider home-pasteurization and be aware of the risks of consuming unpasteurized milk, especially in young children, the elderly, pregnant women and persons with compromised immune systems,” the health department said.