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Raw milk causes illness in residents
by MELINDA WILLIAMS
Aug 28, 2014 | 1016 views | 0 0 comments | 3 3 recommendations | email to a friend | print
White black milch cow on green grass pasture
White black milch cow on green grass pasture
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CLEARFIELD — An outbreak of campylobacter infection hit six northern Utah counties this summer.

And nearly half of them were reported in Davis County.

A total of 45 case of campylobacter infection were reported in Davis, Cache, Morgan, Salt Lake, Utah and Weber counties, associated with raw milk purchased at the Ropelato Dairy in Weber County, according to the Utah Department of Health.

Of those, 20 were reported in Davis County, said Davis County Health Department spokesman Bob Ballew.

Two additional cases were reported in out-of-state residents from California and Idaho. The infection was found in patents between May 9 and July 21. Those who became ill ranged in age from 2 to 74 years.

Utah Department of Agriculture and Food inspectors suspended the dairy’s license to sell raw milk on August 4, 2014, after several tests of raw milk samples taken at the farm were positive for campylobacter. 

“Inspectors have repeatedly visited the dairy, reviewing safety procedures, working with the owner to determine the source of the problem and helping devise corrective actions, said Larry Lewis, public information officer with the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food. He added that the dairy has been very cooperative in working with the inspectors, and will be allowed to resume raw milk sales as soon as the milk consistently passes safety tests.

Raw milk is from cows, goats or sheep that has not been pasteurized to kill harmful bacteria.

This raw, unpasteurized milk can contain dangerous bacteria such as campylobacter, salmonella, listeria, and e. coli, that are responsible for causing foodborne illness. Other products that contain raw milk, such as cream or queso fresco, can also cause foodborne illness.

Raw milk contaminated with disease-causing bacteria does not smell or look any different from uncontaminated raw milk, and there is no easy way for the consumer to know whether the raw milk is contaminated, health officials warn.

Symptoms of campylobacteriosis include diarrhea, abdominal pain, fever, headache, nausea and vomiting. The illness can last for up to a week or more and can be serious, especially for young children, pregnant women, the elderly, and those who have weakened or compromised immune systems.

In some severe cases, illness can lead to complications, including paralysis and death.

Since 2009, there have been 14 documented outbreaks of campylobacter infection associated with raw milk consumption in Utah, with more than 200 people becoming ill.

In response, public health officials warn that drinking raw milk may be dangerous. They suggest taking the following steps to avoid illness when purchasing and/or consuming raw milk (or raw milk products):

•   Purchase raw milk only from those stores or dairies permitted by law to sell it. However, a government permit does not guarantee that the raw milk (or raw milk product) will be free from disease-causing bacteria. 

•   Keep raw milk and raw milk products refrigerated at or below 40°F. Do not let raw milk sit out at room temperature.

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