Michigan public health officials are urging consumers to avoid drinking or serving unpasteurized, raw milk because of two recent cases of E. coli infections in young children. Both of the children, in Oakland and Wayne counties, consumed raw milk in the days before becoming sick with what turned out to be E. coli O157:H7. milking cow in barnyard“Raw milk has been known to be a source of E. coli,” according to the warning from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, which also urged people to not consume any dairy products, such as cheese and yogurt, that are made from raw milk. It is not legal to sell unpasteurized, raw milk in Michigan, but herd share programs provide a way around that prohibition for those who wish to drink raw milk and serve it to their children. Share programs allow members own part of a cow or herd and in return receive raw milk. Such programs are not inspected or regulated under Michigan dairy laws, according to the state warning. “The public should be aware that raw milk and other unpasteurized dairy products have not been heat treated and, therefore, pose a potentially serious risk to human health,” Eden Wells, chief medical executive for the state health department said in the warning. The list of potential pathogens often found in raw milk include E. coli, Salmonella, Listeria and Campylobacter. In addition to primary infections, the pathogens in raw milk can also cause hemolytic uremic syndrome, tuberculosis, brucellosis and Q fever, according to the Michigan health department. Second raw dairy problem this month in Michigan The current warning and the E. coli cases associated with it mark at least the second time this year that Michigan has seen people infected from consuming raw dairy products. Grassfields Cheese makersFrom March through July, at least seven people were confirmed with E. coli infections traced to raw, organic cheeses from Grassfields Cheese LLC of Coopersville, MI. The family-owned company recalled 10 tons of cheeses from at least 13 states Aug. 3 after officials found the outbreak strain of E. coli in samples of Grassfields cheeses. Retail chains that carried the Grassfields cheeses included Whole Foods Market and Kroger. Michigan public health officials warn that young children are one of the most likely population groups to develop infections and other illnesses from drinking raw milk and eating other raw dairy products because of their immature immune systems. Pregnant women, elderly people and other individuals with weakened immune systems are also at greater risk of becoming ill from consuming raw milk and unpasteurized dairy products. Anyone who develops symptoms of foodborne illness such as E. coli after consuming raw dairy products is urged to seek medical attention. Symptoms of an E. coli infection include severe abdominal cramps, diarrhea that is often bloody, and vomiting. Most people get better within one week, but serious complications can develop. Young children are more likely to develop severe illness and a complication called hemolytic uremic syndrome or HUS. A person with HUS will appear pale, tired, and have a decreased frequency of urination as their kidneys may stop working. More information about unpasteurized, raw milk and potential health hazards is available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (To sign up for a free subscription to Food Safety News, click here.)