All of the children are under 4, and several are experiencing kidney failure.
Another vivid, real-life warning to those considering drinking raw milk: 10 children in Knoxville, Tennessee, have fallen ill with E. coli poisoning after drinking raw milk from local dairy producer French Broad Farm. All of the victims are under the age of 4, and four of them are now in critical condition after developing hemolytic uremic syndrome, a rare form of kidney failure that is often a side effect of E. coli poisoning in the young and elderly.
According to USA Today, Tennessee's Knox County Health Department confirmed that the unusually high amount of E. coli cases originated from unpasteurized milk, commonly known as raw milk. The agency is asking consumers in the area to throw away any raw milk they might have purchased and to consider the risks of consuming unpasteurized milk.
Over the last few years, raw milk, which hasn't been pasteurized before being sold, has grown in popularity among consumers. Proponents claim that the milk is tastier, more natural, and that it contains more nutrients and is easier to digest. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, however, strongly discourage consuming raw milk as it sharply increases the risk of contracting foodborne illnesses.
The Food and Drug Administration has previously banned the sale of raw milk across state lines, and a growing number of states have made raw milk sales illegal. Tennessee, however, is not one. The chief medical officer of East Tennessee Children's Hospital, in Knox County, has called this outbreak the "worst they've ever seen."
E. coli can be found within the intestines of animals and people, causing infections when the pathogens are transmitted through water, food, or contact between animals and infections—which leads to serious cases of food poisoning. A recent widespread E. coli outbreak fueled by romaine lettuce staggered the United States, leaving five people dead and upwards of 200 people ill in 32 states. These cases of E. coli have been tied to raw milk exclusively.