16, 2009: Unpasteurized Milk Discovered as Source of Outbreak in Wisconsin

cowsResidents from Walworth, Waukesha, Racine and Kenosha counties in Wisconsin have been sickened by Campylobacter jejuni.

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The Wisconsin Department of Health Services has found 35 confirmed cases of Campylobacter jejuni infection, including 21 patients under age 18. One person was hospitalized. All the patients had consumed unpasteurized milk. Thirty of the patients identified Zinniker Family Farm, Elkhorn, as the source of the raw milk.  The farm sells raw milk through a "cow-share" program. Manure samples obtained directly from milking cows on that farm also tested positive for Campylobacter jejuni. 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.

Wisconsin officials remind the public not to drink raw milk and farmers not to sell it to the public.  An official from the Food Safety Division in the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) stated, “Laws requiring pasteurization of milk have been on the books for more than half a century, and there are good public health reasons for that.  Selling raw milk to consumers is illegal in Wisconsin. Some farmers believe that such arrangements exempt them from the law. They are mistaken. The law says that owners may consume raw milk from their farms, but those owners have to be true owners with a real financial stake in the farm. And the law clearly says that unpasteurized milk can be sold only to a licensed dairy plant or to other licensed businesses that sell to dairy plants.”

Campylobacter food poisoning symptoms may include diarrhea (often bloody), cramping, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, headache, muscle pain, and fever within 2-5 days after being exposed to Campylobacter. The illness typically lasts for one week, although recovery can take up to 10 days.  While most people will recover within a week, there are an estimated 100 deaths due to Campylobacter food poisoning infections each year.

Long-term complications of Campylobacter infection can include arthritis and Guillain-Barré Syndrome, a rare disorder in which the body's immune system attacks part of the peripheral nervous system. Beginning several weeks after the diarrheal illness, Guillain-Barré Syndrome can cause temporary paralysis and usually requires intensive care. It is estimated that approximately one in every 1,000 reported Campylobacteriosis cases leads to Guillain-Barré Syndrome.

The Law Firm of Eric H. Weinberg currently represents victims of food poisoning outbreaks nationwide, and we are ready to help you.  If you have been injured as a result of listeriosis and you have a question concerning you legal rights, please call us toll free at 1-877-934-6274, or click Free Legal Case Evaluation.

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