SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois Department of Public Health is warning Illinoisans about the potential of illness associated with raw milk. The Michigan Department of Community Health and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are investigating an outbreak of campylobacteriosis associated with drinking raw milk distributed through a cow share program from a dairy in Middlebury, Indiana. A Family Farms Cooperative in Michigan received milk from the Indiana dairy and has delivered the suspect milk to locations in Des Plaines, Downers Grove, Elgin and Chicago, Illinois.
Since early March, the Michigan Department of Community Health has identified 18 outbreak-related illnesses in south and southeast Michigan, of which 11 are laboratory confirmed as Campylobacter (a bacteria which causes campylobacteriosis). The Illinois Department of Public Health and local health departments will be following up on any other reports of illness linked to raw milk consumption.
Anyone experiencing gastrointestinal illness they believe to be associated with drinking raw milk should seek testing for themselves from a medical professional and should also contact their local health department to report the illness.
Campylobacteriosis is a bacterial infection that causes diarrhea, which may be watery or sticky and can contain blood. Other symptoms may include fever, abdominal pain, nausea, headache and muscle pain. The illness usually occurs 2-5 days after ingestion of the contaminated food or water and lasts generally 7-10 days. Antibiotics may be used to treat campylobacteriosis.
Raw milk can cause serious infections. Raw milk and raw milk products (such as cheeses and yogurts made with raw milk) can be contaminated with bacteria that can cause serious illness, hospitalization, or death. Pasteurization is the best method of eliminating disease-causing organisms in milk and the only method routinely used in the United States.