The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture has announced that testing has confirmed that 35 campylobacter infections resulted from the consumption of unpasteurized “raw” milk. The agency announced on September 16 that DNA test results and other evidence have now established that the confirmed cases of Campylobacter jejuni infection, including 21 patients under age 18, were caused by unpasteurized milk purchased from Zinniker Family Farm near Elkhorn. The farm sells raw milk through a cow-share program.

Wisconsin Ag Connection reports that:

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.

Agriculture officials count the Zinniker outbreak as the third major outbreak in Wisconsin since 2001 that has been tied to raw milk consumption. Sale of raw milk is illegal in Wisconsin.

  • Lisa in Chicago

    How is it possible for people to get sick when all of the milk samples tested negative?

  • Louis Keeler

    Duh, they obviously didn’t test the milk that the people drank. hese organisms can bloom in the cow, come out in the milk then sit in a body awhile before making anybody sick. Campylobacter jejeuni can live in a body for weeks or more before turning into an active infection. Actually they don’t know how longe it can live. another kind of campylobacter that causes ulcers lives in the stomach and its acids.

  • Suzette in WI

    Actually, I think they did test older samples. The farm had samples on hand that they had collected and saved. They tested negative. There were several cases (people we know personally) that did not drink raw milk from the farm. There were others that drank raw milk from the farm that had the same milk that other family members had – and they did not get sick (other people we know personally). Considering that there are other, more common, sources of campylobactor, I suspect the contamination came from somewhere else, but because of the raw milk “witch hunt” going on in WI right now, it was pinned on the dairy. Heaven forbid that people make their own choices regarding what level of processing (or lack thereof) they would like their food to have.

  • Marymary

    Those of you who are in doubt: how do you explain the matching DNA?

  • Atom Egoyan

    This is a prime example of people refusing to believe facts that challenge their myths.
    DNA fingerprinting showed the exact same strain of C. jejuni in the cow and human feces, for 2/3 of the victims. The other 1/3 I presume had already shed the bacterium, given that it was a good month since they ingested it.
    Don’t be ridiculous, Suzette. Of course the contamination might have come from somewhere else–it’s a zoonosis! Go learn some microbiology! The point isn’t where it came from. The point is: it was in the milk, it made people sick, it could easily have been defeated through the gentle heating of milk for a few seconds.
    This is not a witch hunt. This is people using reason to look out for public health and for the vulnerable.

  • Eastsider

    The problem with all of this is that the people got their milk from a cowshare, they knew the risks involved, and aren’t looking for a lawsuit. Where are those normally screaming about the “nanny state” on this one?