Idaho Public Health officials are investigating eight illnesses in southwest Idaho likely associated with drinking unpasteurized (raw) milk. To date, four Campylobacter and four E. coli 0157:H7 cases have reported drinking raw milk produced by the Natural Farm Fresh Dairy of Kuna in the week prior to getting sick. The investigation is ongoing with Southwest and Central District Health departments, working in association with the Idaho State Department of Agriculture.
“If people have recently purchased raw milk from this dairy, we advise them not to drink it and to discard it,” says Dr. Leslie Tengelsen, State Public Health Veterinarian with the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare.
The Idaho State Department of Agriculture is working with Natural Farm Fresh Dairy to confirm if the raw milk from that facility was the source of the reported illnesses. The dairy is fully cooperating with the investigation and issued the following statement: “Natural Farm Fresh is committed to providing a safe and wholesome product to its customers. Effective immediately, we are voluntarily removing all raw milk products currently on the shelves in retail stores and we will discontinue further distribution of our raw milk until additional product testing is completed.”
People should inform themselves of possible health risks before consuming raw, unpasteurized dairy products or providing these products to family members, particularly those considered members of high risk groups. Those at higher risk of illness after consuming raw, unpasteurized milk include young children, pregnant women, the elderly, and those with compromised immune systems.
Common symptoms of acute Campylobacter infection include fever, diarrhea (sometimes bloody), abdominal pain, general discomfort, and vomiting. Symptoms often begin 2-5 days after consumption of contaminated foods and last for about a week in most people; in 20 percent of cases symptoms can last for up to three weeks. Symptoms of E. coli O157:H7 infection typically include stomach cramps and diarrhea, including bloody diarrhea. Symptoms often occur 3-4 days after exposure, but can be as short as 1 day and as long as 10 days. E. coli O157:H7 infections sometimes lead to a serious complication called hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), which can cause kidney failure and can occur a week or more after the onset of diarrhea. People with any symptoms of illness after consuming unpasteurized milk from Natural Farm Fresh of Kuna should seek medical attention.