April 4, 2020

E. coli in Raw Milk Sickens 2 in MI

E. coli O157:H7 in raw milk produced by an Ottawa County cow share has sickened two people in West Michigan, health authorities say. A 6 year old girl and a 31 year old woman both reported drinking unpasteurized milk from the cow share before becoming ill.

Milking a CowThe sale of raw milk is not legal in Michigan, so raw milk enthusiasts establish cow share programs as a way around the law. Cow share or herd shares are not licensed by the state and not inspected.

Health departments from three counties, Kent, Ottawa and Muskegon issued a joint press release about the illnesses. Pasteurized products are the safer alternatives to raw, health officials said in the statement. Pregnant women, infants, small children, the elderly, and people with chronic illnesses  are at high risk for foodborne illness and should never consume raw milk products, they advise.

“Some believe drinking raw milk products is more nutritious and provides the body with ‘good bacteria.’ The pasteurizing process does not significantly change the nutritional value of milk, and due to the risk of serious illness, there are far safer sources of good bacteria than raw milk.” These products include pasteurized probiotic yogurts and kefir.

Symptoms of an E. coli infection usually appear three days after exposure but can take as long as a week to develop. They include vomiting, diarrhea that is sometimes bloody and abdominal pain. If you drank raw milk and experience these symptoms, see a doctor and mention your possible exposure to E.coli as antibiotics can worsen E. coli infections.

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