SLC health officials urge caution as people report illness due to drinking raw milk
Oct 11, 2023, 1:35 PM | Updated: 1:46 pm
(AP Photo/Charlie Litchfield, File)
SALT LAKE CITY — Health officials in Utah have identified 14 people with campylobacteriosis, an illness associated with drinking milk that is unpasteurized, or raw, the Salt Lake County Health Department said on Wednesday.
Eight of the 10 people infected with the illness in Salt Lake County and four people infected in other counties reported drinking raw milk prior to getting sick.
The Salt Lake County Health Department said those infected range in age from 2 to 73. Only one of them has been hospitalized, though, that person is now recovering at home.
The department said the source of the raw milk causing the outbreak is unknown. The agency urged people to only consume dairy products that have been pasteurized.
In Utah, grocery stores only sell pasteurized dairy products, and farms that sell raw milk directly to consumers must be licensed. There are 16 licensed raw milk retailers in Utah and three in Salt Lake County, the department said in its announcement Wednesday.
The Salt Lake County Health Department says anyone who chooses to consume raw milk, or products made from raw milk, should heat it above 165 degrees for at least 15 seconds and then let it cool before consuming — keeping those products refrigerated and not letting them sit out. These steps, the agency said, will reduce the chance of illness.
Unpasteurized milk can contain multiple types of bacteria including Campylobacter, which is the cause of the illness, salmonella, listeria and E.coli.
“Raw milk contaminated with disease-causing bacteria does not smell or look any different from uncontaminated raw milk, and there is no easy way for a consumer to know whether raw milk contains harmful bacteria,” the health department said.
Outbreaks of campylobacteriosis have occurred, on average, one or two times each year since 2009 in Utah, and an average of about 12 people get sick during each outbreak.
Campylobacteriosis causes diarrhea, abdominal pain, fever, headaches, nausea and vomiting that can last a week or longer. It is especially dangerous for young children, pregnant women and people with weakened immune systems. Severe cases can lead to paralysis or death.
The Salt Lake County Health Department said if people who recently consumed raw milk are experiencing any of those symptoms, they should talk to their doctor.