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Health Officials Say Raw Milk Probably Caused Campylobacter Outbreak at Wisconsin High School

Officials with the Wisconsin Department of Health Services say that unpasteurized (raw) milk served at a potluck team meal is the likely cause of a Campylobacter outbreak that sickened close to a couple dozen Durand High School football players and coaches this past month.

At least 22 members of the football team were sickened after attending a team dinner on Thursday, Sept. 18. State and county health officials investigating the outbreak had compiled a list of all food and drink they had consumed, and raw milk was apparently on the list.

Subsequent lab tests revealed that the bacteria causing the illnesses was Campylobacter jejuni, which is often found in the digestive systems of poultry and cattle and in animal feces.

State health officials interviewed all members of the football team and the coaching staff to determine what activities, foods and beverages, or anything else they may have commonly been exposed to before being sickened. Those interviews revealed that raw milk consumption was the only food item associated with the illnesses.

Officials with the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection collected manure samples from the farm where the raw milk was produced, and the test results showed that the bacteria causing the illnesses among those who drank the raw milk was the same strain found on the farm.

Campylobacter is a bacteria which causes gastrointestinal symptom including diarrhea (possibly bloody), cramping and fever within two to five days of exposure. Symptoms typically last about a week, although some of those infected do not exhibit symptoms.

Confirmed Campylobacter cases are usually associated with eating raw or undercooked poultry or meat or from cross-contamination of other foods by these items. Other exposures can come from unpasteurized dairy products and contaminated water, produce or animals. Exposure is also possible from person-to-person, although that is less common.

© Food Safety News
  • RealMilk4me

    Well if it was found on one farm, ALL milk from every farm everywhere must be tainted. Pasteurize everything! Protect us momma government!

    • Cypherpunks (a public account)

      Either you don’t know or don’t care how many lives have been saved by the simple act of pasteurization. Either way there is no excuse for this statement. Public health and safety is a state concern. Learn to live with it or go live in Somalia.

  • Annlaf

    I would want to find out who was the stupid person who brought the raw milk to the party?

    • mem_somerville

      Really. I think adults have the right to play white-russian-roulette with their own home, but inflicting this risk on other people’s kids should be criminal.

  • ethanspapa

    It is not uncommon in that part of the country where they think pasteurizing is necessary. IT IS!!!!

  • Dan Thomas

    Right! Now let’s kill all the cows in the country because they could be infected with Campylobacter!

    And we wonder why all the kids are allergic to every fekin’ thing…

  • THINK&QuestionEverything

    Sheeple, Really, it MUST be TRUE, after all, its on the internet. If you had any kind of thought process in the mush you have upstairs, sometimes referred to as a brain, you’d first be questioning the “probably” in the headline – Don’t believe the BS that is literally being fed to you that you are so blindly eating….

    • DocB

      “Probably” is the easy part. This outbreak was over a month ago and I am sure there are no samples left to test. Science is bases on possibility and probability. Is it possible that the Campylobacter came from men from Mars? Yes, it is possible but not very probable. If you are looking for absolute undeniable answers to all of life’s questions, good luck. Question yes, but do it with an open mind.
      My two cents worth, I grew up drinking unpasteurized goats milk because that is what we had. I would never give raw milk to anyone without their knowledge and never give it to a minor without their parent’s consent.

    • Cypherpunks (a public account)

      People who disagree with your personal convictions aren’t automatic puddinheads, dear. They confirmed that the strain at the farm was the same as what infected the football players. That’s not proof beyond a shadow of a doubt, but it’s close enough for me. Science is rarely 100% certain. I grew up around dairy farms and my father was a large animal vet who regularly schooled me on disease pathology and food safety (and continues to do so), so I’m satisfied my opinions are quite well informed, thank you very much.

  • nonannystate

    Interesting that they say “probably caused” when they state that raw milk was the only food item in common in the people who were sickened. Then they find it in the manure of cows on the farm. That in the past has been sufficient to trumpet “Another raw milk disease outbreak!”
    I do wonder if those who consumed it were aware it was raw. If not, I would consider that foolish. Campylobacter is the MOST common cause of diarrhea.
    I drink raw milk. I am aware of all the things that can go wrong but then again just about anything you each has the possibility of illness associated with it.
    I think all the hoopla over raw milk being dangerous is completely over done.