Health officials investigating after residents sickened by raw milk from Utah

Posted at 10:41 AM, Aug 26, 2014
and last updated 2014-08-26 19:58:10-04

SALT LAKE CITY - Utah public health officials are investigating a few cases of sickness associated with raw or unpasteurized milk.

So far, 45 cases of Campylobacter infection have been confirmed in people who had raw milk in the week they got sick.

Officials said the illness has been reported in Cache, Davis, Morgan, Salt Lake, Utah and Weber counties.

Two cases have also been confirmed in California and Idaho.

The first case of the infection was reported May 9.

The Utah Dept. of Health said all 45 cases are linked to raw milk or cream purchased at Ropelato Dairy in Weber County.

The Utah Dept. of Agriculture suspended the dairy's license to sell raw milk on Aug. 4 after several tests were positive for Campylobacter.

Larry Lewis with the UDAF said the dairy has been very cooperative in working with the inspectors and it will be allowed to sell raw milk again as soon as it consistently passes safety tests.

According to the UDOH, Campylobacteriosis is a bacterial infection that causes diarrhea, abdominal pain, fever, headache, nausea and vomiting.

The illness can last up to a week or more and can be serious, especially for young children, pregnant women, the elderly, and those who have weakened or compromised immune systems.

Officials said raw milk contaminated with disease-causing bacteria does not look, taste or smell any different.

Basically, there is no easy way for the consumer to tell if it is safe or not.

Public health officials are warning consumers that drinking raw milk may be dangerous.

They suggest taking the following steps to avoid illness when purchasing and/or consuming raw milk (or raw milk products):

  • Purchase raw milk only from stores or dairies permitted by law to sell it.
    However, a government permit does not guarantee that the raw milk (or raw milk product) will be free from disease-causing bacteria.
  • Keep raw milk and raw milk products refrigerated at or below 40°F.
    Do not let raw milk sit out at room temperature.