Ten days after it went public about a Salmonella Typhimurium outbreak that caused the State Health Department to warn all Minnesotians not to drink any raw milk, the department reports there is good news and bad news.

The good news is that there are no new cases of Salmonella T beyond the five known illnesses involving children from the Twin Cities metro area. The bad news is the Minnesota Health Department’s Foodborne Disease Unit has not yet determined a source for the infections.

The investigation continues. The families of two sick children reported consuming raw or unpasteurized milk, but information could not be obtained from the remaining families.

The fact that the original cases were identical through laboratory analysis indicates the infections came from the same source. 

The cases include children aged three months to 10 years who became ill between the end of June and early July. One child was hospitalized.  

“Even healthy animals can carry these germs and have them in their milk,” said Maria Bye, senior epidemiologist in the Zoonotic Diseases Unit at MDH. “Consuming unpasteurized milk is risky, no matter how clean the operation from which it is purchased.” 

Food contaminated with Salmonella bacteria does not usually look, smell, or taste spoiled. Anyone can become sick with a Salmonella infection. According to the CDC, infants, children, seniors, and people with weakened immune systems are at higher risk of serious illness because their immune systems are fragile.

Anyone who has eaten recalled products and developed symptoms of Salmonella food poisoning should seek medical attention. Sick people should tell their doctors about the possible exposure to Salmonella bacteria because special tests are necessary to diagnose salmonellosis. 

Unpasteurized milk, also known as raw milk, has not been heated to a temperature high enough to kill harmful germs from fecal contamination found in milk. These germs can include Campylobacter, E. coli, Cryptosporidium, and Salmonella. One child in this cluster of cases was infected with two types of pathogenic E. coli in addition to Salmonella, emphasizing the possibility of getting multiple infections from raw milk, according to public health officials. 

Salmonella infection symptoms can mimic other illnesses, frequently leading to misdiagnosis.

Symptoms of Salmonella infection can include diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and fever usually within 12 to 72 hours after eating contaminated food. Otherwise, healthy adults are usually sick for four to seven days. In some cases, however, diarrhea may be so severe that patients require hospitalization.

Older adults, children, pregnant women, and people with weakened immune systems, such as cancer patients, are more likely to develop severe illness and serious, sometimes life-threatening conditions. Some people get infected without getting sick or showing any symptoms. However, they may still spread the infections to others.

The Minnesota health department is working to identify the source of the unpasteurized milk causing these Salmonella infections and prevent additional illnesses.  

“If you have raw or unpasteurized milk in your refrigerator, please do not consume it,” Bye said, “If you have developed gastrointestinal illness after consuming unpasteurized milk, contact your health care provider.” 

To help prevent more people from getting sick, MDH is asking anyone with information about gastrointestinal illnesses shortly after consuming unpasteurized milk at the end of June or the beginning of July to fill out a confidential online survey or email health.foodill@state.mn.us

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