A Campylobacter outbreak in Pueblo County, Colorado has sickened at least 20 people, according to news releases from El Paso County Public Health and the Pueblo City-County Department of Public Health. Twelve confirmed and eight probable cases of Campylobacter infections have been reported to public health officials since August 1, 2016. The most recent illness onset date was September 16, 2016.
All of those sickened reported drinking raw milk from Larga Vista Ranch in Pueblo County. All of those case patients live in Pueblo and El Paso counties.
The state health department has notified about 175 people who are participants in the Larga Vista cow share operation on September 8, 2016 about this problem and are doing so again today. These types of operations let people buy a share of a cow and then receive raw milk in return. Shareholding is the only way it is legal to obtain raw milk in Colorado.
Some of those who are sick were not shareholders in the cow share operation, but got the raw milk from those who were shareholders. Under the law, shareholders are not allowed to redistribute the raw milk they get from farmers.
Government officials are warning people not to consume raw milk and raw milk products from Larga Vista and to throw away any products from that ranch they may have in their homes. The risk of serious complications from consuming raw milk is greater for infants, young children, the elderly, pregnant women, and people with chronic illnesses and weakened immune systems.
Both agencies warn consumers that drinking unpasteurized milk can endanger your health. There is no method available to assure the safety of raw milk. This product is only safe to consume if it is pasteurized.
Many animals, including cows, dogs, and pigs, carry this bacteria in their intestines.The Campylobacter bacteria is shed in feces. Since a cow’s teat is so close to its anus, feces can very easily get into milk, even if a farmer practices exceptional hygiene. The infectious dose for Campylobacter is less than 500 organisms, which easily fit on the head of a pin.
The illness caused by Campylobacter bacteria is called campylobacteriosis. This bacteria is the most commonly reported cause of diarrhea in this country. Symptoms include diarrhea which is often bloody, abdominal cramps and pain, nausea and vomiting, fever, headache, and tiredness. The illness usually lasts for two to five days, but some people may be sick for as long as 10 days. Most people recover without medical intervention, but some may develop serious complications.
One of the complications of this illness is Guillain-Barré Syndrome, which is the leading cause of paralysis in the United States. Other complications include meningitis and arthritis.
Guillain-Barré Syndrome usually develops a few weeks after the person first becomes sick. It causes paralysis of the limbs that can last for weeks. In more severe cases, people can stop breathing and require hospitalization for months or years. Some people are permanently paralyzed from this syndrome.
If you drank raw milk from Larga Vista Ranch in Pueblo County, Colorado and have experienced these symptoms, please see your doctor. Antibiotics can help reduce the severity of the infection.