June 5, 2020

Utah’s Raw Milk Campylobacter Outbreak is Largest in 5 Years

Outbreaks of Campylobacter infection in Utah have been linked to raw milk consumption 14 times in the past five years, sickening more than 200 people. The largest of those outbreaks began in May of this year and was announced one week ago when the Utah Deparment of Agriculture and Food announced that it had suspended the Raw Milk for Retail distribution permit held by Ogden’s Ropelato Dairy. As of August 26, state health officials had traced 45 illnesses to the Weber County raw milk operation.

Milking a CowilkOf the 14 Utah raw milk Campylobacter outbreaks, two have been associated with the Ropelato farm, located at 4019 W. 1800 South, Ogden, state records show. The previous outbreak was recorded in May 2010, sickening a smaller cluster of people  in three counties. Regardless, Utah agriculture officials have said the dairy will be able to resume raw milk sales once the milk consistently passes safety tests. Campylobacter infection causes diarrhea, abdominal pain, fever, headache, nausea and vomiting. It may also cause paralysis or death in some cases. One of the life-threatening complications that can arise is known as GBS, or Gullain-Barre Syndrome. The people most vulnerable to serious illness are young children, pregnant women, older adults and people who have depressed immune symptoms, including cancer patients who are under treatment.

With the latest raw milk outbreak affecting so many people, the Health Department in Utah has again warned consumers that drinking raw milk is dangerous. Without using pasteurization to kill invisible germs like Campylobacter, even the most hygienic dairy barn can produce dirty milk, state officials have said. “Raw milk contaminated with disease-causing bacteria does not smell or look any different from uncontaminated raw milk, and there is no easy way for the consumer to know whether the raw milk is contaminated,” the Utah Department of Health said in a news release.

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