Larimer dairy implicated
By Kate Martin
The Daily Reporter-Herald
FORT COLLINS — At least five people got sick after drinking raw milk from a Larimer County dairy in late December or early January.
Larimer County Health and Environment officials are investigating the cases, said Dr. Adrienne LeBailly, director of the department.
Kim Meyer-Lee, a regional epidemiologist, said five people reported laboratory-confirmed cases of campylobacteriosis from Jan. 4 through Jan. 9. The county also found other suspected cases, said LeBailly.
Campylobacteriosis is an infection caused by ingesting the Campylobacter bacterium, said Meyer-Lee. Symptoms are diarrhea, cramping, fevers, vomiting, headaches, body aches and chills.
“(Five) is a high number to be reported in that time period,” Meyer-Lee said. “Normally there’s two to three per month in the winter months.”
Selling unpasteurized milk directly to consumers is prohibited by state law. Dairies normally pasteurize milk to kill harmful bacteria.
Consumers of raw milk can legally buy shares in dairy cows, however. Colorado law does not forbid drinking raw milk from a privately owned cow.
Officials refused to release the name of the dairy involved, saying the case still is under investigation. Calls to several raw-milk dairies in Larimer County were not returned Thursday evening.
Meyer-Lee said Campylobacter enters the milk supply through cross-contamination with animal waste.
“There was some kind of fecal contamination during the milking process,” she said.
LeBailly said it is “never a good idea to drink raw milk.”
“People say they prefer the taste of raw milk or they feel they have fewer digestive problems … but you always run a risk when you drink raw milk,” she said.
County officials are not restricting the operations of the dairy, LeBailly said.