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Marler Blog Providing Commentary on Food Poisoning Outbreaks & Litigation

Unpasteurized milk and unpasteurized (raw) milk products should not be consumed to prevent milk-borne infections, U.S. federal health officials say

Eating fresh cheese at a fair in Kansas was the only recent exposure associated with illness. Of 101 persons who ate the cheese, 66 percent became ill, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report said.  On October 26, 2007, a family health clinic nurse informed the Kansas Department of Health and Environment that Campylobacter jejuni had been isolated from two ill persons from different families who were members of a closed community in a rural Kansas county.  By Oct. 29, 17 additional members of the community had reported gastrointestinal illness. All 19 persons reported consuming fresh cheese on Oct. 20 that was made the same day at a community fair from unpasteurized milk obtained from a local dairy, the report said.

An investigation by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment and the local health department determined the source and extent of the outbreak. Eating fresh cheese at the fair was the only exposure associated with illness.  Although all samples of cheese tested negative for Campylobacter, results of the epidemiologic investigation found an association between illness and consumption of fresh cheese made from unpasteurized milk, the report added.

Unpasteurized milk and milk products should not be consumed, especially among populations at high risk of infection complications — the young, pregnant, elderly and immunocompromised.

  • YP

    25 culture confirmed campy cases from one raw milk dairy in PA, 43 others ill who drank that dairy’s milk but not cultured. See below.
    PART I:
    September 12, 2008
    HARRISBURG – State Health Secretary Dr. Calvin B. Johnson today advised consumers who purchased raw milk from Hendricks Farm & Dairy of Telford, Montgomery County, to immediately discard the raw milk and any items made with the raw milk due to potential bacterial contamination. Raw milk is milk that has not been pasteurized.
    Recently, individuals who consumed raw milk purchased from the dairy were found to have gastrointestinal illness due to Campylobacter, a bacterial infection. Since September 1, a total of seven confirmed cases of Campylobacter infection have been reported among raw milk drinkers in seven unrelated households in Pennsylvania and a neighboring state. Other individuals in these households have also experienced similar gastrointestinal illness. The investigation is ongoing.
    The Department of Agriculture today suspended the farm’s raw milk permit and instructed the owner to stop selling raw milk for human consumption until the permit is reinstated. The Department of Agriculture will require two raw milk samples drawn at least one day apart to be tested negative for bacterial pathogens before raw milk sales may resume.
    Other action to ensure the safety of the public will depend upon the results of pending laboratory tests and the joint investigation by the Health and Agriculture departments.
    The shelf-life for raw milk is about 14 days but can be longer if the milk is frozen. Freezing of the milk will not kill the Campylobacter bacteria.
    Individuals who drank raw milk or ate other raw milk products purchased from Hendricks Farm & Dairy and became ill are advised to consult with their physician. If no illness occurred, it is not necessary to seek medical attention.
    Campylobacter is a bacterial infection that affects the intestinal tract and can sometimes affect the bloodstream and other organs. It is one of the most common causes of gastroenteritis, which can include diarrhea and vomiting. Approximately 1,300 confirmed cases of Campylobacter are reported each year in Pennsylvania.
    Onset of illness usually occurs in 2 to 5 days after swallowing the bacteria. Patients often do not require specific medical treatment unless they become severely dehydrated or the infection spreads from the intestines. People with severe diarrhea may require rehydration, often with intravenous fluids.
    For more information about Campylobacter, visit the Department of Health at http://www.health.state.pa.us or call 1-877-PA-HEALTH.
    PART II:
    Raw Milk Update from Pennsylvania Department of Health:
    In light of ongoing public concerns about food borne illness, the Pennsylvania Department of Health (PADOH) continues to advise those who wish to reduce their risk of food borne infections to avoid the consumption of raw (unpasteurized) milk, products that are derived from raw milk, and raw-milk cheeses that are not aged for at least 60 days. While this recommendation applies to all persons, PADOH advises that those at higher risk of severe food borne illness (the elderly, young children, pregnant women, and persons with compromised immune systems) should avoid raw milk consumption. While the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture permitting process can enhance the safety of raw milk, there are no measures that can render raw milk as safe as milk that has been heat sterilized (pasteurized).
    On September 12th, PADOH released information regarding an outbreak of Campylobacter infections associated with consumption of raw milk. The following provides an update of the information previously released.
    As of September 24, 2008, there are:
    • 25 persons with culture-confirmed Campylobacter infections who specifically mentioned raw milk consumption from a specific dairy.
    • One person with culture-confirmed Campylobacter infection who specifically mentioned raw milk consumption but did not specify the source of the raw milk.
    • 43 other persons with a gastrointestinal illness compatible with Campylobacter infection but without culture confirmation who specifically mentioned raw milk consumption from a specific dairy.
    • Most illness onset among these 60 persons are between September 1-8, 2008.
    • One person became ill on September 19th, after consuming milk purchased two weeks earlier, and another purchased milk from an off-farm store on September 11th and became ill several days later.
    • Among all other persons recalling a specific date the raw milk was obtained, the dates are during a narrow period of late August and early September.
    • Among the 25 culture confirmed persons, the median age is 29 years, with a range of 5 years to 61 years, and 68 percent are male.
    • Among the culture-confirmed cases, all but three are residents of Montgomery or Bucks County. Two of the remaining three are from out-of-state, but were visiting Bucks County when the raw milk was purchased.
    Campylobacter is one of the more common types of bacteria that have been associated with illness due to raw milk consumption. Earlier this year, an outbreak of Campylobacter infections involving 70 persons who consumed raw milk was identified in association with a Pennsylvania bed and breakfast establishment.
    A fact sheet on Campylobacter infections can be found on the PADOH website at the following address: http://www.dsf.health.state.pa.us/health/cwp/view.asp?a=171&q=230338&healthPNavCtr=|&TNID=4630#4630