(Updated April 11, 2012) A Missouri E. coli outbreak that sent two young children to the hospital with HUS complications is under investigation by public health officials in at least three counties -- Boone, Camden, Cooper and Howard. A spokeswoman for the Columbia/Boone County Department of Public Health and Human Services said all three Boone County victims had consumed raw milk products before falling ill.
Still, investigators have not identified the cause of the weeks-old outbreak and there has been no Missouri raw milk recall for consumers to heed. One of the children hospitalized in the outbreak is 2 years old and the other is 17 months. They both are believed to be survivors of kidney failure and other symptoms of HUS, or hemolytic uremic syndrome.
Officials said the outbreak started late last month and continued into early April with all cases located in central Missouri.
Raw, or unpasteurized, milk causes an average of eight food-borne illness outbreaks every year in the U.S. Despite its risks, more than 30 states permit the sale of raw milk or raw milk products. Food-borne illness caused by tainted raw milk can create long-term health problems including kidney failure, hypertension, heart problems, chronic arthritis, brain damage, nerve damage including paralysis, proctitis and irritable bowel syndrome.
A good E. coli lawyer will weigh these potential long-term harms and calculate their costs as part of any fair negotiation with the party that is ultimately proven responsible for contaminating food served to children and others. In 80 percent of raw milk outbreaks, a child or teenager is among the victims.