E. Coli Victims Sue Connecticut Raw Milk Producer

We have long warned about the potential health problems associated with ingesting raw milk and its sometimes very dangerous effects on human health. Now, two families are suing a dairy and a West Hartford Whole Foods Market Inc. for serious illnesses their children suffered after drinking raw milk contaminated with <"http://www.yourlawyer.com/topics/overview/e_coli_escherichia_coli">E. coli, reports the Hartford Courant.

In all, three young children ages three and one—a brother and sister—and another young girl (age 3) were so seriously ill that they required hospitalization. Two of the children suffered from kidney failure and required dialysis, said the Hartford Courant, citing the families and their attorney.

Raw milk is milk that has not been pasteurized. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), raw milk or raw milk products were implicated in 45 outbreaks that resulted in over 1,000 illnesses and two deaths in the United States during 1998-2005. In 1938, milk was the cause of 25 percent of all food- and water-related sickness. With the introduction of universal pasteurization—long considered one of the most successful public health endeavors of the last century—that number fell to one percent by 1993.

Some people believe raw milk contains organisms that treat all manner of maladies, including digestive problems, asthma, and autism, saying raw milk offers greater benefits because it allegedly does not contain chemicals and hormones. This growing contingent says the heat necessary for pasteurization kills healthy natural proteins and enzymes. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) disagrees and insists pasteurization destroys harmful bacteria without significantly changing milk’s nutritional value. Of note, it is illegal to sell raw milk for human consumption in 22 states. The other states allow raw milk sales within their borders; the FDA bans sales across state lines.

E. coli is a potentially deadly bacterium that can cause bloody diarrhea, dehydration, and—in the most severe cases—kidney failure. The very young, seniors and persons with weak immune systems are the most susceptible to food borne illness.

E. coli victims sometimes require kidney transplants and may have scarred intestines that cause long-lasting digestive difficulty. Even E. coli patients who supposedly recovered can experience long-term health problems later on in life. For instance, it is estimated that 10 percent of all E. coli sufferers develop a life-threatening complication called hemolytic uremic syndrome, or HUS, in which their kidneys and other organs fail. According to the reports cited by the LATimes, E. coli O157:H7, for instance, tends to impact those under the age of 19 and taints ground beef and other meats, green leafy vegetables, raw milk, and raw milk cheeses. Some 15 percent of children infected with this strain develop HUS.

Earlier this year we wrote that the CDC announced most food borne illnesses that sicken millions and kill thousands of Americans yearly are not only preventable, but could be reduced with improved analysis and reporting, according to WebMD Health News. Because the majority of illnesses, deaths, and hospitalizations go unreported, the CDC believes about 76 million Americans, with 300,000 hospitalizations and 5,000 deaths occur annually over food borne-related contaminations.

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