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Campylobacter outbreak linked to raw milk in Wisconsin

DNA test results and other evidence have now established that an outbreak of illness involving at least 35 people, the majority children and teens, was linked to drinking unpasteurized milk. Wisconsin food safety officials are cautioning consumers not to drink raw milk and farmers not to sell it to the public.

An epidemiologic investigation conducted by DATCP and the Wisconsin Department of Health Services has found 35 confirmed cases of Campylobacter jejuni infection, including 21 patients under age 18. One person was hospitalized. All the patients had consumed unpasteurized milk. Thirty of the patients identified Zinniker Family Farm, Elkhorn, as the source of the raw milk. The farm sells raw milk through a “cow-share” program. Twenty-seven of the confirmed cases were in Walworth and Waukesha counties; the rest were in Racine and Kenosha counties.

Additional testing showed that the Campylobacter jejuni isolated from 25 of the patients – all linked to Zinniker Family Farm – had the same DNA fingerprint. Manure samples obtained directly from milking cows on that farm also tested positive for Campylobacter jejuni with the same DNA fingerprint. Manure on the cows’ udders or in the milking barn environment can contaminate milk. Pasteurization kills Campylobacter jejuni and other disease-causing bacteria in milk.

Campylobacter jejuni are bacteria that cause symptoms including diarrhea, abdominal cramping, fever, nausea and vomiting.
 
 

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