April 26, 2018

Alaska Campylobacter Raw Milk Outbreak Now at 18 Patients

The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services has issued a new health advisory update into the Campylobacter outbreak associated with the consumption of raw milk.  The notice states that some of the patients have had recurrent illnesses and two needed to be hospitalized. At least one secondary case, an infant, became ill after having “close contact” with a laboratory confirmed case.

The Alaska Section of Epidemiology is contacting people who have received or consumed raw milk from the farm involved. Public health officials expect that the number of probably and confirmed cases will rise. All of the cases have been linked to consumption of raw milk from a farm on the Kenai Peninsula that operates a cow-share program, where people buy “shares” in a cow and then receive the milk. The sale of raw milk is illegal in Alaska.

Symptoms of a Campylobacter infection include diarrhea, abdominal cramps and pain, nausea, vomiting, and fever that begin one to ten days after exposure. The illnesses usually lasts from three to nine days. Some people can develop life-threatening complications from the bacteria. Guillan-Barré syndrome, one complication, can cause permanent paralysis.

Anyone who drinks raw milk should be made aware of this outbreak. If you consumed raw milk in the past year and developed an illness, please contact the Section of Epidemiology to report it. Call 907-269-8000 in Anchorage or 1-800-478-0084 in the rest of the state. Ask to speak to a member of the Infectious Disease Team.

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