Public health officials in Ada County, ID, are investigating an outbreak of infections from Campylobacter linked to the consumption of unpasteurized, raw milk.

The Central District Health Office announced the outbreak this week. Five people have tested positive for Campylobacter infections since Sept. 20. Three reported drinking raw milk from Provider Farms in Mountain Home before getting sick. 

The Central Health District is collaborating with the Idaho State Department of Agriculture and the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare in the ongoing investigation.

The health district is conducting interviews with patients and getting raw milk samples tested. The state agriculture department is working with the raw milk vendor, Provider Farms, to mitigate any ongoing consumer risk. Provider Farms distributes directly to consumers at several distribution centers from Nampa to Burley.

The agriculture department recommends that anyone who has purchased raw cow milk products from Provider Farms in the past 30 days should dispose of any remaining products.

People should be aware of possible health risks before consuming raw, unpasteurized dairy products or providing such products to family members, particularly those belonging to high-risk groups, according to the health district. Those at higher risk of illness after consuming raw milk include young children, pregnant women, the elderly, and those with compromised immune systems.

Raw milk can be contaminated with various bacteria, including Campylobacter, Listeria, E. coli, and Salmonella. It can also be contaminated with viruses such as hepatitis A.

About campylobacter infections
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, outbreaks have been associated with unpasteurized dairy products, contaminated water, poultry, and produce. People also can become infected from contact with dog or cat feces. Person-to-person spread of Campylobacter is uncommon.

Many people recover in a week, but Campylobacter infection can have long-term consequences, such as arthritis, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS).

Azithromycin and fluoroquinolones, such as ciprofloxacin, are commonly used for treatment, but resistance to fluoroquinolones is common.

Campylobacter infection symptoms usually begin two to five days after exposure and are characterized by diarrhea (frequently bloody), abdominal pain, fever, nausea, and sometimes vomiting. More severe illnesses can occur, including bloodstream infection and symptoms mimicking acute appendicitis or ulcerative colitis.

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