ALBANY, N.Y. (Jan. 29, 2010 ) — The New York State Department of Health and the State Department of Agriculture and Markets today warned consumers in Saratoga County and surrounding areas NOT to consume "unpasteurized" raw milk produced at Willow Marsh Farm located at 343 Hop City Road in Ballston Spa due to possible Campylobacter contamination.

The state Health Department received 5 reports of Campylobacter enteritis, from people who have also consumed raw unpasteurized milk purchased from Willow Marsh Farm.

Campylobacter is a bacterial infection that can cause diarrhea, fever, abdominal pain, nausea, headache, and muscle pain. The illness usually occurs two to five days after ingestion and generally lasts for seven to ten days.

Anyone who purchased milk from Willow Marsh Farm and still has the product should discard it immediately. Individuals experiencing gastrointestinal illness symptoms after consuming milk purchased from Willow Marsh Farm should contact their health care provider.

The farm has voluntarily suspended milk sales since it was first notified of the reported illnesses on January 22.

Preliminary tests concluded today at the New York State Food Laboratory found that raw unpasteurized milk produced at Willow Marsh Farm and collected on January 25 may be contaminated with Campylobacter. Final test results will be available in the coming week. If the raw milk sample is confirmed positive for Campylobacter, the producer will be prohibited from selling raw milk until subsequent sampling indicates that the product is free of pathogens.

Willow Marsh Farm holds a Department of Agriculture permit to legally sell raw milk at the farm. Routine samples are taken monthly and tested by the state Agriculture and Markets Department to determine whether the raw milk is free of pathogens.

Raw milk does not provide the protection of pasteurization, which eliminates all pathogenic bacteria, including Campylobacter. Producers who sell raw milk to consumers must have a permit from the Department of Agriculture and must sell directly to consumers on the farm where the milk is produced. These producers must also post a notice at the point of sale indicating that raw milk does not provide the protection of pasteurization. Farms with permits to sell raw milk are inspected monthly by the Department.