by Robert Herriman, Infectious Disease Examiner, October 31, 2010, examiner.com:
The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) reported additional cases of infectious organisms being transmitted through consumption of raw milk.
Raw milk consumed from Hartmann dairy farm in Sibley County has several people sick from two different infectious organisms, the bacteria Campylobacter jejuni and the parasite Crytosporidium parvum. These organisms were laboratory confirmed.
But these cases are only been the tip of the iceberg this year from raw milk consumption in the state. So far this year there have been 47 documented cases of foodborne illness from ingesting raw milk including an outbreak this summer with E.coli O157:H7 from raw milk.
As MDH Foodborne Diseases Unit Supervisor Kirk Smith wisely notes, “While we are very concerned about the ongoing illnesses associated with this one farm, this isn’t just about one farm selling raw milk and making people sick, this also is about the inherent risk of any raw milk. People need to think carefully about those risks before consuming raw dairy products from any source, and people need to know that the risks are especially high for young children.”
And he is absolutely correct.
In a paper titled, “Milk of Nonhuman Origin and Infectious Diseases in Humans”, John Leedom from USC points out the many risks of drinking raw or unpasteurized milk. The list is a cornucopia of infectious agents: Salmonella species, Campylobacter species, Listeria monocytogenes, Brucella abortus, Brucella melitensis, Mycobacterium bovis,Tick-borne encephalitis, Yersinia enterocolitica and he discusses the theoretical possibility of rabies transmission:
“In1996 and 1998, there were 2 episodes involving rabid cows that occurred in Massachusetts. Milk from rabid cows can contain rabies virus, and transmission via unpasteurized milk is theoretically possible. Temperatures reached during pasteurization kill the virus. Eighty persons consumed unpasteurized milk that was collected from the 2 cows, and 9 more had contact with saliva from the cows. All 89 persons received postexposure rabies prophylaxis, and no human cases of rabies eventuated. A similar report in Oklahoma of possible rabies exposure associated with the consumption of raw milk or cream from a rabid cow was circulated in 2006.”
As Kirk Smith also notes in the news release, “Whatever is in cow poop is going to wind up in raw milk. It is impossible to produce raw milk without those kinds of things happening.”