So far, the SLCoHD has confirmed 10 people have contracted Campylobacteriosis, an illness caused by a bacteria known as Campylobacter. Eight of those 10 infected confirmed with health officials they drank raw, unpasteurized milk prior to their illness.
Raw milk is milk that comes from cows, goats or sheep that has not been pasteurized to kill harmful bacteria. Campylobacteriosis can cause often bloody diarrhea, fever, stomach cramps, nausea and vomiting. These symptoms can appear two to five days after infection.
“This raw, unpasteurized milk can contain dangerous bacteria such as Campylobacter, Salmonella, Listeria, and E. Coli, all of which are responsible for causing foodborne illness” warned SLCoHD spokesperson Nicholas Rupp in a press release. “Other products made from raw milk, such as cream or queso fresco, can also cause illness.”
Public health officials warn that drinking raw milk may be dangerous and advise Utahns to only drink or eat dairy products that have been pasteurized to kill the harmful bacteria. In very severe cases, Campylobacteriosis can cause serious health complications and can lead to paralysis or even be fatal.
There have been 14 people infected statewide, one of whom was hospitalized but is now at home recovering, reports the SLCoHD. The ages of those infected ranged from two-years-old to 73.
In Utah, raw milk and raw milk products can only be sold directly from the farm and grocery stores are only allowed to sell pasteurized dairy products. Farms that sell raw milk have to be licensed by the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food. SLCoHD said there are 16 licensed farms statewide, three of which are in Salt Lake County.
Contaminated raw milk does not smell or look any different from uncontaminated raw milk, according to public health officials, so there is no easy way to tell if the milk is safe to consume. To help decrease the chance of getting sick if you do choose to drink raw milk, health officials suggest:
- Heat raw milk to 165 degrees Fahrenheit for at least 15 seconds then let it cool before consuming.
- Keep raw milk and raw milk products refrigerated at or below 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Do not let it sit out at room temperature.
The Salt Lake County Health Department said the source of the raw milk in the outbreak remains under investigation.