The Ohio Department of Agriculture is issuing a health alert for unpasteurized raw milk and raw milk products that may be contaminated with Campylobacter bacteria. The products are from Sweet Grass Dairy’s herd share. That dairy is in Knox County at 6049 Bryant Road in Fredericktown.
There is no word on how many people have been sickened, the patient age range, or whether or not anyone has been hospitalized. The last Campylobacter outbreak linked to raw milk was in September 2016. In that outbreak, at least 20 people were sickened in Pueblo, Colorado.
A herd share is a system where people buy into a dairy farmers herd, then share in the products the cows produce. This is a way to get around the ban on raw milk sales in many states. The sale of unpasteurized milk is illegal in Ohio.
Campylobacter is a pathogenic bacteria that can cause serious illness and death. It is one of many pathogens that are found in raw milk and raw milk products. Pasteurization is the only way to kill those pathogens and make raw milk products safe to consume.
The Ohio Department of Agriculture and the Ohio Department of Health are collaborating on the investigation into this outbreak. Foodborne illnesses were reported in Franklin County. Testing confirmed a link between the illnesses and raw milk from Sweet Grass Dairy.
The symptoms of a Campylobacter infection can include diarrhea that can be bloody, abdominal pain, fever, nausea, lethargy, and vomiting. Symptoms usually begin two to five days after exposure to the bacteria. Most people are sick for a week, some for a longer time period.
Anyone who has a chronic illness, a compromised immune system, or who is elderly or very young can have serious complications from this illness. One of these complications is Guillain-Barré syndrome, which can cause paralysis. In the most serious cases, muscles that control breathing can become paralyzed. About 5% of those who develop this syndrome die. Other complications include arthritis and meningitis
If you or anyone you know consumed raw milk from Sweet Grass Dairy and has been experienced the symptoms of campylobacteriosis, see your doctor immediately.