The New Mexico Department of Health says that they are investigating six cases of cryptosporidiosis associated with raw milk products. That illness is caused by the Cryptosporidium parasite. Also investigating the outbreak are the New Mexico Department of Agriculture and the New Mexico Environment Department.
Those cases have been reported to the government since August 31, 2016. Each person sickened said they consumed raw milk products before getting sick. All of those sickened live in Bernalillo County. There is no word on any potential recall, or if any of the patients have been hospitalized, their ages, or conditions.
Secretary of Health Designate Lynn Gallagher said in a statement, “raw milk products may be contaminated with a variety of infectious pathogens. We are particularly concerned about the very young, the elderly, and others with compromised immune systems who may develop more severe illness if exposed to contaminated raw milk products.” NMDOH recommends that anyone in New Mexico who has purchased raw milk products discard them to prevent infection. Do not consume raw milk or products made with it, including cheeses, sour cream, and yogurt.
Raw milk and products made from it can pose severe health risks, since it has not undergone pasteurization, a heating process that destroys bacteria and parasites. Raw milk can contain Campylobacter, E. coli, Listeria monocytogenes, Salmonella, and Brucella bacteria as well as parasites.
The symptoms of cryptosporidiosis include diarrhea, stomach cramps, abdominal pain, dehydration, nausea, vomiting, fever, and weight loss. The symptoms usually begin 2 to 10 days after exposure to the parasite. People are usually sick for one to two weeks. The parasites live in a person’s intestines and are passed in the stool.
Cryptosporidium outbreaks are usually associated with public swimming pools and water parks. The parasite has an outer shell that protects it from cleaners and sanitizing agents such as chlorine. This is only the second time in recent years in the United States that an outbreak of crypto has been associated with raw milk. But there have been many other outbreaks in the past few years caused by other pathogens such as E. coli, Campylobacter, and Salmonella linked to raw milk and raw milk products.