Raw Milk Sickness In Colorado – Update

Health officials with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, or CDC, have issued an update on the 2016 food poisoning outbreak that was ultimately linked to raw milk in Colorado. In its February 9 Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, CDC confirmed that the cases of Campylobacter infection believed linked to the Larga Vista herdshare program, in fact, were.

This story first made news in late summer of 2016 when Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, or CDPHE, was informed of a possible food poisoning outbreak among people who drank raw milk from the Larga Vista herdshare dairy in Pueblo County. (In the U.S., Campylobacter infection in humans is a “reportable disease”, which means doctors are required to report any diagnosed cases of the bacterial infection to health officials.) At the time, there were 2 confirmed cases and at least one other suspected case.

Multiple tests on the suspected victims and milk samples taken from the dairy reportedly confirmed that antibiotic-resistant Campylobacter jejuni was the culprit. But despite all that, the dairy was never actually ordered closed, though it was required to post notices about the outbreak at its various distribution points. (An August 30, 2016 Facebook posting from Larga Vista, by contrast, claims that, “. . . raw milk has protective beneficial bacteria (which are great competitors as opposed to pathogens, which are not) and immunoglobulins to protect it from pathogens,” and links to a pro-raw dairy website:

Larga Vista Ranch's answer to the potential Campylobacter jejuni otbreak linked to raw milk.

Within days of being notified of a possible link between its raw milk and an apparent Campylobacter jejuni outbreak, Larga Vista posted this on Facebook.

In Colorado, the retail sale of raw milk is illegal but cow sharing programs like the one linked to this particular dairy are not.

In all, 12 confirmed cases and 5 probable cases of food poisoning were connected to the milk. There were no deaths blamed on the raw milk but one victim required a hospital stay.

Particularly concerning, say health officials, was the fact that the bacterium involved here was resistant to 3 antibiotics. And that seems to be a trend. In 2015, more than 25% of this particular bacteria were found to be resistant but only a decade earlier the percentage was less than 22%.

Photo by Virginie LITAUDON on Unsplash