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Raw-milk illnesses jump to 26

Boulder County Public Health officials on Friday said they’d identified at least 26 cases of people who said they became ill after drinking raw milk from Billy Goat Dairy.

That’s 10 people more than the county reported on Wednesday, when it announced it had launched an investigation and had ordered the Billy Goat Dairy to cease distributing raw, unpasteurized raw milk.

“Right now, we’re waiting for confirmed lab results” from the people who became sick and from the dairy at 7577 N. 107th St., Alden said, to determine whether the illnesses are linked to goat milk from the dairy.

“We can say that everyone who has reported illness also reported drinking raw milk from Billy Goat Dairy,” Alden said.

Two children were examined at The Children’s Hospital in Aurora after becoming ill. Alden said Friday that one is still hospitalized and remains in serious condition.

Boulder County Public Health has been contacting people in the more than 40 households in Billy Goat Dairy’s goat-share program, a program that allows participants to receive unpasteurized milk after buying shares of the dairy’s goats.

The county also has been asking the dairy program’s members to identify anyone else they might have shared their raw milk with.

On Thursday, state and county health officials took milk samples from the dairy goats and what Alden called “environmental samples” from various locations at the dairy.

Billy Goat Dairy owner Bill Campbell said Friday that he also is awaiting the results of those tests because he’s “been getting calls from people saying, ‘I drank your milk and I didn’t have any problems, but my neighbor got sick and never drank milk.’”

He said he is uncertain there actually is a direct link with his goat herd’s milk, because more than 130 people are in the households that have been getting the milk.

Campbell said he and his daughter Kathleen drink his dairy’s raw goat milk and haven’t had any health problems.

Campbell said his wife, Sally, doesn’t drink the dairy’s milk.

“She grew up on a dairy and she doesn’t like milk,” he said.

Alden said that “we always assume that people can be exposed and not become ill” when exposed to bacteria such as the campylobacter and E. coli 0157 found in testing of the people who reported becoming ill.

Symptoms of campylobacter and E. coli infections can include fever, diarrhea, cramps, nausea and vomiting.

Campbell said that when health officials ordered him earlier this week not to distribute any more raw milk while their investigation is under way, they also advised him to dump it down a septic tank after he milks his goats.

Instead, he said, “I’ve dug a hole. I literally bury it.”

Boulder County Public Health communicable disease coordinator Murielle Romine said earlier this week that Campbell “has been very cooperative throughout this entire investigation.”

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