Following an E. coli outbreak in the state of Washington, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) is joining with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to warn the public against drinking raw milk.
Topeka, KS – infoZine – Raw milk is not treated or pasteurized to remove disease-causing bacteria and may cause life-threatening illness. There is also a potential risk of getting rabies from drinking raw milk.
Eight cases of illness have been reported in Washington state to date associated with raw milk containing E. coli O157:H7 bacteria. Several of these cases were in children. Two of the children remain hospitalized. Health authorities have identified locally (Washington) sold raw milk as a source of the outbreak, and have ordered an unlicensed dairy to shut down.
In addition, an advisory was issued from the Oklahoma State Health Department today about a potential rabies exposure from drinking raw, unpasteurized milk or cream sold from a dairy in Claremore, Oklahoma after one of the cows on the farm was confirmed to have rabies.
“Only pasteurized milk should be considered safe to drink,” stated Dr. Howard Rodenberg, KDHE Division of Health Director. “There is only marginal difference in nutritional value between raw and pasteurized milk, and certainly not worth the risk of catching a disease.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 300 people in the United States became ill by drinking raw milk or eating cheese made from raw milk in 2001, and nearly 200 became ill from these products in 2002.
Symptoms of E. coli O157:H7 illness include stomach cramps and diarrhea, including bloody diarrhea. People who have developed these symptoms after consuming unpasteurized milk should seek immediate medical attention. E. coli O157:H7 disease sometimes leads to a serious complication called hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), which can cause kidney failure, possibly leading to death.
Pasteurization is the only effective method for eliminating the bacteria in raw milk and milk products. Pasteurization can also prevent diseases as tuberculosis, diphtheria, polio, Q fever, salmonellosis, strep throat, scarlet fever, and typhoid fever.
Federal law requires all milk shipped between states to be pasteurized.