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Walworth County Wisconsin District Attorney’s Office may file charges in Raw Milk Campylobacter Case

The Walworth County District Attorney’s Office is evaluating whether to file charges against the owners of an Elkhorn farm shut down after more than two dozen people fell ill from consuming raw milk.  Assistant District Attorney Zeke Wiedenfeld on Monday met with three representatives from the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection.

"It’s a crime to sell raw milk," Wiedenfeld said after the meeting. "Whether or not it gets charged is a determination that we have to make. I’ll be speaking to them (officials) about making a charging decision and what is the proper outcome for a case like this."

Wiedenfeld said it will be a matter of weeks before he makes a charging decision.

According to agriculture officials, 35 people from Walworth, Waukesha and Racine counties have been diagnosed with campylobacter jejuni, a bacterial infection that causes diarrhea, cramping and vomiting.

All the victims said they had consumed raw milk, and 30 of them said they got it from Zinniker Farm, Elkhorn. Twenty-one victims were under the age of 18. One was hospitalized. Twenty-seven of the victims were in Walworth and Waukesha counties.

Tests run by state officials showed the campylobacter jejuni from 25 of the patients had a DNA fingerprint later matched with bacteria found in feces from cows at the Zinniker farm.

  • Suzette in WI

    I find it very interesting that all the milk samples came back negative, but it turned up in the manure. I have a hard time believing that the contamination was in the actual milk. You cannot tell me that the same contaminated cow’s milk was not in the tank for all the other testing. It looks very suspicious when the state is trying to shut down raw milk dairies all over the state (because, after all, the organic milk industry would suffer….). Very fishy indeed.

  • Atom Egoyan

    Suzanne, the only fishy thing is your reasoning. Of course the contamination didn’t show up in the milk–it had already been distributed and consumed as much as 10-14 days before anyone got sick. Don’t you have even the least understanding of how enteric microbes operate? The absolutely fingerprinted strain of campylobacter was found in both the cows feces and the sick humans. Stop substituting your raw milk faith for actual hardworking human efforts to protect public health using the best data we have. This isn’t about organic versus raw milk or anything else. This is about food creationists and their unreasonable beliefs that are making children sick! Enough of your straw man burning. Go take freshman microbiology.

  • Cheryl Greenwald

    Just wondering…somewhere I read there were around 200 people involved in Zinniker’s program. Is it normal for so few to have actually been affected by the bacteria? Also, were the ones who got sick all from the same families, or was the sickness spread throughout all the families?