Raw Milk From Pennsylvania Sickens 35

Raw milk produced in Pennsylvania has sickened 35 people. All 35 consumed raw milk from the same dairy—The Family Cow Farm—located in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, according to health officials there.

Of those confirmed ill with campylobacter bacterial infection, 28 people reside in Pennsylvania, four in Maryland, two in West Virginia, and one in New Jersey, wrote CBS News/The Associated Press (AP).

Health officials have advised consumers to discard raw milk purchased on or after January 1, from the Family Cow Farm in Chambersburg, said CBS/AP. The Family Cow Farm has, since, voluntarily suspended its raw milk production. Meanwhile, according to a spokeswoman from the Agriculture Department, final test results of milk samples The Family Cow Farm may be available this week.

As we’ve long warned, consuming foods with less processing may appear to present a healthier choice; however, dangers exist when consuming unpasteurized milk and milk products, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Pasteurization briefly heats milk at high temperatures killing most food borne bacteria and is the only method used in the United States; this method is considered by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as the most reliable such method.

For decades, public health authorities, including the FDA and CDC, have expressed concerns about the hazards of drinking raw milk. Since 1987, the FDA has required milk packaged for human consumption to be pasteurized before being introduced into interstate commerce.

The CDC also notes that raw milk or raw milk products were implicated in 85 outbreaks that resulted in over 1,000 illnesses and two deaths in the U.S. during 1998-2005. Since all food borne illnesses are not recognized and reported, the actual number associated with raw milk is likely significantly greater.

The food borne bacteria, Campylobacter, is one of the most common causes of diarrheal illness in the United States and usually infects consumers as a result of tainted poultry, milk, and water; in this case, raw milk.

Symptoms of Campylobacter include fever, headache, and muscle pain, followed by diarrhea, abdominal pain, and nausea, with these symptoms appearing two-to-five days after eating tainted food and lasting up to 10 days. Infections can lead to Guillain-Barre Syndrome, a potentially paralyzing illness that can leave victims with mild to severe neurological damage, as well the very dangerous, and sometimes fatal, meningitis.

Symptoms of other illness caused by various bacteria commonly found in raw milk may include vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, fever, headache and body ache. Most healthy individuals recover quickly from illness caused by raw milk; however, some people may have more severe illness, and the harmful bacteria in raw milk can be especially dangerous for pregnant women, the elderly, infants, young children, and people with weakened immune systems.

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