Nine people became ill and three were hospitalized after drinking raw milk and contracting salmonella.
San Diego County health officials have linked the nine patients to unpasteurized milk sold by Raw Farm LLC in Fresno. The San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency urges anyone with raw milk or raw milk products from the farm to dispose of them immediately.
The nine San Diego County residents who became ill reported consuming Raw Farm LLC raw milk or milk products in the week before the illness began. Patients range in age from 1 to 41 years. All three hospitalized are children.
“The county recommends that people who have products from this company in their homes dispose of them immediately,” said Dr. Seema Shah, medical director of the county’s Division of Epidemiology and Immunization. “It is also important that anyone who is sick seeks medical attention. People who are sick and those who live with them should wash their hands frequently to avoid contaminating surfaces and foods that could spread the disease.
In August of this year, the farm’s raw cheddar cheese was recalled due to salmonella contamination. That recall came a week after a federal judge issued an injunction against the dairy formerly known as Organic Pasteurs.
Raw milk has not gone through the pasteurization process, which heats milk to a high temperature for a short period of time to kill harmful germs that can contaminate raw milk. These germs can include Salmonella, Listeria, E. coli and other bacteria, viruses and parasites. Pasteurization is the only effective method for eliminating most harmful microbes in raw milk or dairy products and does not significantly alter the nutritional value of dairy products.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends against consuming raw milk and similar products. People at greatest risk of severe disease are adults 65 and older, children under 5, and people with weakened immune systems.
San Diego County HHSA is working closely with the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) and the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) to continue investigating illnesses associated with raw milk and dairy products. People who have or develop symptoms should contact their healthcare provider. More information on the safety of raw milk is available here.
For salmonella infections
Food contaminated with Salmonella bacteria usually does not look, smell or taste spoiled. Anyone can get a salmonella infection. Babies, children, the elderly and people with weakened immune systems are at higher risk of serious illness because their immune systems are fragile, according to the CDC.
Anyone who has eaten any of the implicated raw milk or milk products and develops symptoms of Salmonella infection should seek medical attention. Sick people should tell their doctors about possible exposure to Salmonella bacteria, because special tests are needed to diagnose salmonellosis. Symptoms of salmonella infection can mimic other illnesses, often leading to misdiagnosis.
Symptoms of Salmonella infection may include diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and fever within 12 to 72 hours of consuming contaminated food. Otherwise healthy adults are usually sick for four to seven days. In some cases, however, diarrhea can be so severe that patients require hospitalization.
Older adults, children, pregnant women, and people with weakened immune systems, such as cancer patients, are more likely to develop severe disease and serious, sometimes life-threatening conditions.
Some people become infected without getting sick or showing symptoms. However, they can still spread the infections to others.