Nine people have been sickened, and three have been admitted to hospitals after drinking raw milk and becoming infected by Salmonella.

Health officials from the County of San Diego have linked the nine patients to unpasteurized milk sold by Raw Farm LLC in Fresno. The County of San Diego Health and Human Services Agency urges anyone with raw or raw milk products from the farm to discard them immediately. 

The nine San Diego County residents who became ill reported consuming Raw Farm LLC raw milk or milk products the week before their illness onset. The patients range in age from 1 to 41 years old. All three of the hospitalized patients are children.   

“The County recommends that people who have products from this company in their homes dispose of them immediately,” said Dr. Seema Shah, medical director of the County’s Epidemiology & Immunization Services Branch. “It’s also important for anyone sick to seek medical care. People who are ill, and those that live with them, should wash their hands frequently to avoid contaminating surfaces and foods that could spread the disease.” 

In August this year, the farm’s raw cheddar cheese was recalled because of Salmonella contamination. That recall came a week after a federal judge entered an order against the dairy, formerly known as Organic Pasteurs.

Raw milk has not gone through the pasteurization process that heats the milk to a high temperature for a short time to kill harmful germs that can contaminate raw milk. These germs can include Salmonella, Listeria, E. coli, and other bacteria, viruses, and parasites. Pasteurization is the only effective method for eliminating the most harmful germs in raw milk or milk products and does not significantly change dairy’s nutritional value. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends against consuming raw milk and related products. People most at risk for severe illness are adults 65 years and older, children younger than 5, and individuals with weakened immune systems. 

The County of San Diego HHSA is working closely with the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) and the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) to continue investigating illnesses associated with raw milk and milk products. People who have or develop symptoms should reach out to their healthcare provider. More information on raw milk safety is available here.

About Salmonella infections

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 any of the implicated raw milk or milk products and developed symptoms of Salmonella infection 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. Salmonella infection symptoms can mimic other illnesses, frequently leading to misdiagnosis.

Symptoms of Salmonella infection can include diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and fever 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.

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