Child dies after eating cheese made from raw milk

A 3 year old child And died at the end of May 2024 after ingesting cheese made with raw milk contaminated by Escherichia coli and having contracted hemolytic-uremic syndrome (SEU). The story of little Elia, this is the child's name, was told by his father Marco who asked that his son's case remain the only one of this type, invoking new national directives on clear labels on dairy products produced with milk raw.

3-year-old boy dies after ingesting raw milk

The sad story of Elijah it had started when he was rushed to the Gaslini Hospital in Genoa after eating some cheese which his family had purchased from a dairy company during a holiday in the mountains. This cheese was al raw milk unpasteurized and contaminated by some strain of Escherichia coli. The food in question was ingested by Elijah in the weeks before Easter, with the first symptoms of dysentery which occurred ten days later.

The onset of increasingly serious symptoms pushed the child's parents to seek help from the children's hospital on the morning of last Easter Monday. After spending 51 days in intensive carethe child of just under 3 years old did not make it, dying last year May 21st. Medical tests have shown that the child has developed a rare disease, la hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS).

What is HUS

The media coverage resulting from death of 3 year old child prompted the Bambino Gesù Pediatric Hospital in Rome to explain what it is SEU and what you need to pay attention to, especially with young children. “It is a disease that presents with renal failure of variable severity, low platelets and severe anemia – they say from the Bambino Gesù Children's Hospital – In most cases, the symptoms appear after a few days of diarrhea without blood or mixed with mucus and blood . The child usually arrives at the emergency room because the parents notice that he is not peeing, he is pale, weak and confused.”

What causes this disease, say the hospital specializing in the care of children, “is in most cases aintestinal infection by Escherichia coli which causes hemolysis, i.e. destruction of red blood cells and consumption of platelets, with the formation of very small thrombi (conglomerates of red blood cells and platelets) which mainly damage the kidneys. Other organs, such as the brain and intestines may also be affected. For this reason, the patient does not urinate or urinates very little, is confused or drowsy and often experiences abdominal pain.”

“His tests – they say from Bambino Gesù – show a marked reduction in red blood cells and platelets and an increase in creatinine, a sign of renal failure. There are rare forms which are not due to E. coli infection but which have a genetic basis, in this case the child does not always have diarrhoea”.

Consumption of raw milk

The consumption of raw milkin the face of a greater nutritional value compared to the pasteurized one, involves some risks which, although contained, cannot fail to be taken into consideration. As reported on the website of Ministry of Health, “raw milk may contain harmful bacteria, which can cause even serious infections in humans. Pathogenic bacteria, which can be present in the intestines of dairy cattle without causing illness, can, in fact, accidentally contaminate raw milk and transmit the infection to humans.” The contained risks, the ministry specifies, “must not be overlooked, especially in childrenin elderly people and in immunosuppressed people. This is a danger that pasteurization heat treatments or boiling can eliminate.”

Cases of HUS in Italy

As for the SEUi cases in Italy there were 91 registered between 1 January 2022 and 31 December 2022. This is stated by the Istituto Superiore di Sanità which also specifies that as many as 97.8 percent of the cases (89) are attributable to the pediatric population (less than 15 years ). And again, “in 2022, the cases of HUS reported to the Registry were 25.7 more than the annual average recorded in the previous 10 years, with a relative increase of 39.4 percent”.