2 kids with kidney failure in Oregon; raw milk off the rails

More details from the Oregon E. coli O157:H7 raw milk outbreak.

Lynne Terry of The Oregonian writes the latest outbreak associated with raw milk has put a toddler and two young teens from the Portland metro area in the hospital with E. coli poisoning, two with kidney failure.

A fourth child — also under 15 — fell ill but was not hospitalized.

Officials from Oregon Public Health said Friday the children consumed raw milk from Foundation Farm, a family run operation in Wilsonville. At least seven other people who drank the farm’s raw milk — adults and children — have developed either diarrhea or bloody diarrhea, a sign of E. coli O157:H7.

The outbreak could grow. Foundation Farm, which agreed to stop production, sold raw milk to 48 families in Multnomah, Clackamas and Washington counties through a herd-sharing program. By Friday afternoon, state epidemiologists had only interviewed about half of them.

Dr. Katrina Hedberg, state epidemiologist, said anyone with the farm’s raw milk or products made from the milk should throw them out.

A total of 20 states nationwide ban the sale of raw milk and 13 restrict sales. Oregon allows retail distribution of raw goat’s milk but not raw cow or sheep’s milk, which can only be sold directly to consumers at farms with no more than two producing cows and a maximum of nine producing sheep.

Foundation Farm has four cows, three that are lactating. But the farm is not breaking the law because herd-sharing programs are not regulated, said Bruce Pokarney, spokesman for the Oregon Department of Agriculture.

"There is no sale going on technically," he said. "The people who have
shares of the herd own the cows. That milk is their milk. It’s as if they are living on the farm."

The company is owned by Bradley Salyers, according to a filing with the Oregon Secretary of State. The company took down its website, and Salyers could not be reached Friday for comment.

"There are laws that prohibit the retail sale (of raw milk) because this is not a safe product," Hedberg said. "People think there is a controversy. There is no controversy. People routinely used to get sick from raw milk."

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