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Health department investigates infection linked to raw milk consumption

Health officials investigate Peninsula illness tied to raw milk

Posted: February 15, 2013 - 6:08pm  |  Updated: February 19, 2013 - 2:42pm

 

The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services Section of Epidemiology is investigating four recent illnesses on the Kenai Peninsula believed to be associated with raw milk consumption, said Greg Wilkinson, department spokesperson.

The infection, campylobacter, can cause diarrhea, stomach pain, nausea, vomiting and fever after two to five days of consuming raw milk, according to a department press release.

The illness, caused from fecal contamination in the cow’s milk, can be life threatening in young children or those with compromised immune systems, according to the document.

Wilkinson said four Kenai Peninsula residents reported similar symptoms to the department, and it is conducting preliminary investigations.

Alaska regulations do not allow the sale of raw milk, however buying shares of a cow to receive its milk is permissible.

In a 2011 outbreak, 18 people reported illness of campylobacter that was eventually traced to a Mat-Su valley farm. Other sources of campylobacter include consumption of under-cooked meat, consumption of food or water cross-contaminated by raw meat or from contact with the feces of infected animals. Humans can also spread the sickness to each other.

The department asks that anyone experiencing stomach pains, diarrhea or a fever since January to call the department’s Section of Epidemiology at 907-269-8000 and request a member of the epidemiology team.

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