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Sixteen People Likely Sickened from Raw Milk from Local Dairy

Wednesday, June 30, 2010 – Boulder County – Since June 10, 16 people who reported drinking raw milk from Billy Goat Dairy in Longmont have become ill. Boulder County Public Health (BCPH) ordered the dairy to stop distribution of its raw milk products yesterday, June 29, 2010. Two children have been hospitalized, one has been released.

The Billy Goat Dairy operates a goat share program in which individuals buy a share of a goat and in return receive raw, unpasteurized milk. BCPH staff is contacting every household who participates in the goat share operation to determine if they became sick and to collect samples. Billy Goat Dairy is fully cooperating with the investigation.

“We strongly advise residents to avoid consuming any raw milk or milk products,” said Murielle Romine. “It can be extremely dangerous, particularly for young children and people with weakened immune systems.”

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) identified 45 outbreaks of foodborne illness that implicated raw milk or cheese made from raw milk between 1998 and May 2005. These outbreaks accounted for 1,007 illnesses, 104 hospitalizations and two deaths.

During pasteurization, the temperature of milk is raised to at least 161 degrees Fahrenheit for more than 15 seconds, and then rapidly cooled. In addition to helping extend milk’s shelf-life, many harmful bacteria are destroyed, including E.coli, Salmonella, Campylobacter and Listeria. Because of pasteurization, less than 1.5 percent of annual foodborne illness outbreaks in the United States involve dairy foods.

Of the people who reported becoming ill from consuming the milk products, lab tests have confirmed the presence of campylobacter and E. coli 0157. Both types of bacteria are found in the intestines of animals and can be passed in their feces to food, water, and milk products that haven’t been pasteurized.

Symptoms of Campylobacter include fever, diarrhea (sometimes bloody), abdominal cramps, nausea, and vomiting. Serious cases can lead to Guillain–Barré syndrome, permanent paralysis, and possibly death. Symptoms of E. coli include severe diarrhea (frequently bloody), abdominal cramping, and sometimes vomiting. Serious cases of E. coli can lead to Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome (HUS) causing kidney failure and possibly death.

Health officials urge anyone who has become ill after consuming raw milk or milk products from Billy Goat Dairy to call the BCPH Communicable Disease Control program at 303.441.1460. If illness continues, residents should contact their healthcare provider.

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