Laboratory test results show that the Campylobactor jejuni bacteria that caused diarrheal illness among 16 individuals who drank unpasteurized (raw) milk at a school event early this month in Raymond was the same bacteria strain found in unpasteurized milk produced at a local farm, according to officials from the Department of Health Services (DHS) and Western Racine County Health Department (WRCHD). A parent had supplied unpasteurized milk from the farm for the school event.
Stool samples submitted to the WRCHD by ill students and adults were sent to the State Laboratory of Hygiene where they tested positive for the bacteria. Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) food inspectors collected milk samples from the bulk tank at the farm, which tested positive for Campylobacter jejuni. Further testing by the State Hygiene lab showed the bacteria strain from the stool samples and the milk samples matched. Additionally, interviews with event attendees revealed that consuming the unpasteurized milk was statistically associated with illness. Health officials said that this combination of laboratory and epidemiologic evidence indicates that the illnesses were caused by the unpasteurized milk consumed at the school event.
Campylobacter jejuni bacteria can cause diarrhea, which can be bloody, abdominal cramping, fever, nausea and vomiting. Rarely, an infection may lead to paralysis after initial symptoms have disappeared. Campylobacter can be transmitted by consuming food contaminated directly or indirectly by animal feces or handled by someone with the infection who has not adequately washed hands after using the bathroom.
The farm did not sell the unpasteurized milk and there was no legal violation associated with the milk being brought to the school event. The farm is licensed and in good standing with the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection.
For more information about the pros and cons of raw milk, see Real Raw Milk Facts. See potential complications of a Campylobacter infection – Guillain-Barre Syndrome.