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Oregon Foundation Farm raw milk, cows, surfaces test positive for E. coli O157:H7

Four children are hospitalized; a total of five confirmed with E. coli – as many as seventeen sick

Oregon Public Health officials today report test results of samples taken from Foundation Farm cows, manure and surfaces as well as raw milk from a farm customer are positive for E. coli O157.

The samples came from leftover milk recovered from one household, rectal swabs from two of four cows, and multiple manure and other environmental samples collected at the farm.

“We continue to warn people to not drink the raw milk or any products made from the raw milk that came from this farm or any other source. Pasteurized milk is the only safe milk because it kills harmful bacteria such as E. coli O157,” said Oregon Public Health State Epidemiologist Katrina Hedberg, M.D., M.P.H.

Four children have been hospitalized. Three have hemolytic uremic syndrome, a type of kidney failure. The fourth child is waiting lab-confirmation. A total of five people, ages 1 to 14, have laboratory-confirmed cases of E. coli. Thirteen people have reported having diarrhea, but their cases have not been lab-confirmed. All drank raw milk from Foundation Farm.

Milk from Foundation Farm and raw cow’s milk in general cannot be sold in retail stores in Oregon. The dairy only distributed to 48 households that were part of a herd-share, in which people contract to take ownership of a portion of a herd or individual animals.

Besides the state, health officials in Clackamas, Washington and Multnomah counties and the Oregon Department of Agriculture are investigating these cases, including interviewing customers and family members of those infected.

E. coli O157 infections are characterized by diarrhea — sometimes bloody — and abdominal pain. Kidney failure and related complications may occur, especially among young children and the elderly. Symptoms usually develop within two to eight days of eating contaminated food. Antibiotics have not been shown to reduce the duration or severity of symptoms, and may increase the risk of kidney failure.

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