Two West Michigan E. coli infections tied to raw milk

(WZZM) - There are two new West Michigan cases of a dangerous E. coli infection. One of the patients is a child and both are tied to raw milk.

Health departments in Kent, Ottawa and Muskegon counties jointly reported the infections Friday. Both were identified as the severe form of E-coli designated O-157.

More coverage: Most severe E. coli bacteria strain identified in West Mich.

Officials say the cases are tied to raw milk from an Ottawa County cow share program. In March, a 31 year old Muskegon County woman became sick after drinking raw milk. A month later, a six year old from Kent County got sick after possibly drinking milk from the same place.

The Kent County Health Department reports the child was not hospitalized and has since made a complete recovery.

This report comes just days after the Michigan Department of Community Health announced five people in Michigan got sick with the same form of E-coli, but from under-cooked ground beef. Two people in West Michigan went to the hospital in that case. One from Kent County shared what it felt like when he got sick.

More coverage: E. coli bacteria: "A hot knife, in your guts."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports unpasteurized milk is 150 times more likely to cause food-borne illness and results in 13 times more hospitalizations than illnesses involving pasteurized dairy products. During pasteurization, milk is heated to high temperatures to kill bacteria. Officials say pasteurizing does not significantly change the nutritional value of milk.

In Michigan, it is illegal to sell raw milk or raw milk products because of the health risk. However, people can get raw milk from cow share programs. Consumers buy a share of a cow. The farmer who houses the animal then gives those owners some of the raw milk that is produced.

To learn more about the pasteurization process, click here.


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