Raw milk from Natural Farm Fresh Dairy of Kuna, Idaho is the suspected as the source of four Campylobacter infections and four E. coli O157:H7 infections, Idaho health officials say. They are warning consumers who have raw milk from the dairy not to drink it.
The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare’s Southwest and Central Districts are working on the outbreak investigation with the Idaho State Department of Agriculture. The dairy is fully cooperating with the investigation.
Raw milk is a common source of food poisoning. In 2013, 85 percent of dairy outbreaks were attributed to unpasteurized milk products, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
“People should inform themselves of possible health risks before consuming raw, unpasteurized dairy products or providing these products to family members, particularly those considered members of high risk groups,” health officials said in a statement. Those at higher risk of illness after consuming raw milk include children, pregnant women, the elderly, and those with compromised immune systems. Children are disproportionately affected by raw milk outbreaks, often they account for the majority of case patients.
Campylobacter and E.coli are bacteria that lived in the intestines of animals and are shed in their feces. They are transmitted via the fecal-oral route, meaning people ingest food or drinks that are contaminated with microscopic amounts of fecal matter.
Campylobacter is the source of most raw milk outbreaks. Recent raw milk Campylobacter outbreaks include a May outbreak in Indiana that sickened several children in the Odon and Montgomery areas; a March outbreak that sickened several people in Northern California; and an October 2014 outrbeak in Durand, Wisconsin.
Common symptoms of Campylobacter infection include fever, diarrhea that is sometimes bloody, abdominal pain, general discomfort, and vomiting. Symptoms usually begin two to five days after consumption of contaminated foods and last for about a week. For about 20 percent of people with these infections, symptoms can last for up to three weeks. In rare cases, a Campylobacter infection can cause Guillain-Barré syndrome, an illness that causes paralysis and death.
E. coliO157:H7, the strain associated with this outbreak, is also not stranger to raw milk. Symptoms of an E.coli infection typically include stomach cramps and diarrhea that can be bloody. Symptoms usually develop one to four days after exposure and last as long as 10 days. Antibiotics should not be used to treat E. coli infections as they can make the illness worse, according to the CDC.
E. coli O157:H7 infections sometimes lead to a serious complication called hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), which can cause kidney failure, seizure, stroke, coma and death. HUS, which often targets children, usually occurs a week or more after the onset of diarrhea.
Anyone who has consumed unpasteurized milk from Natural Farm Fresh of Kuna and has these should seek medical attention immediately and mention exposure to Campylobacter and E.coli. Health officials are continuing to investigate the outbreak. Tests are being conducted on samples taken from the farm. Those results should be available soon.