21 sick from raw milk in Oregon; again ‘people missed the boat on one of the great advances in public health – pasteurization’

Posted on May 1, 2012 by

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by Doug Powell

Oregon health officials suspect two more illnesses are part of a raw milk outbreak traced nearly three weeks ago to a farm near Wilsonville.

William Keene, senior epidemiologist with Oregon Public Health, told Lynne Terry of The Oregonian the two adults had both consumed raw milk from Foundation Farm, including one person who continued to drink it after being warned about the outbreak.

Keene said one was sickened by campylobacter, the other by cryptosporidium, making 21 likely cases in the outbreak. Nineteen others were infected with E. coli. One of the worst foodborne pathogens, E. coli O157:H7 was on rectal swabs from two of the farm’s four cows. Milk and manure from the farm also tested positive for the same bacteria.

State epidemiologists did not test for campylobacter or cryptosporidium so they don’t know for sure that the two new cases are linked to Foundation Farm milk, but Keene said it’s likely.

Cryptosporidium and campylobacter repeatedly turn up in raw milk, he said, along with other harmful bacteria.

Four children who drank the milk were hospitalized with acute kidney failure, which is associated with E. coli O157:H7. As of Friday, they were still in the hospital, Keene said.

Two of the patients — 14 and 13 — are Portland area middle schoolers. The others are 3 and 1 years old.

A fifth child from Lane County, who drank the milk while visiting relatives in the Portland area, was hospitalized and released.

“We’ve documented yet another unfortunate incident where people missed the boat on one of the great advances in public health — pasteurization,” Keene said.

A table of raw milk related outbreaks is available at http://bites.ksu.edu/rawmilk.

Posted in: Family safety