The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture announced Thursday that it had suspended the permit allowing Pasture Maid Creamery in New Castle, PA, to sell raw milk for human consumption. The move came Monday after testing revealed Campylobacter in the creamery’s raw milk.
Campylobacter is found in a wide variety of healthy domestic and wild animals including cattle, sheep, goats, pigs, chickens, ducks, geese, wild birds, dogs, cats, rodents, and marine mammals. The bacteria usually live in the intestines as part of the animal’s normal flora, and is shed in feces. Most Campylobacter species do not cause any signs of illness in the animal host.
Ingestion of Campylobacter bacteria by humans causes diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, headache, and muscle pain. Symptoms typically appear two to five days after exposure. Most cases are mild, do not require hospitalization, and are self-limited; however, Campylobacter jejuni infection, or campylobacteriosis, can be severe and life-threatening.
Campylobacteriosis may cause appendicitis or infect other organs. It can also enter the blood stream. Guillain-Barre syndrome is a severe complication of campylobacteriosis that can lead to paralysis. An estimated one in 1,000 cases of Campylobacter infection results in death.
According to the Pennsylvania Department of Health, at least six people became ill with campylobacteriosis after consuming raw milk from Pasture Maid Creamery in February.
Freezing raw milk will not kill Campylobacter; anyone who has purchased raw milk from Pasture Maid Creamery is urged to discard the milk. Anyone ill with symptoms of campylobacteriosis should contact their health care provider and report their illness to the Pennsylvania Department of Health.