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Wisconsin Ag News Headlines
Tests Confirm That Raw Milk Sales Caused Latest Outbreak of Sickness
Wisconsin Ag Connection - 09/17/2009

The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection says it now knows for sure that the 35 people who were recently sickened in southeastern were consuming contaminated raw milk at the time of their illness. The agency announced on Wednesday that DNA test results and other evidence have now established that the confirmed cases of Campylobacter jejuni infection, including 21 patients under age 18, were caused by unpasteurized milk purchased from Zinniker Family Farm near Elkhorn. The farm sells raw milk through a cow-share program.

Twenty-seven of the confirmed cases were in Walworth and Waukesha counties, with others in Racine and Kenosha counties.

Additional testing showed that the Campylobacter jejuni isolated from 25 of the patients, all linked to Zinniker Family Farm, had the same DNA fingerprint. Manure samples obtained directly from milking cows on that farm also tested positive for Campylobacter jejuni with the same DNA fingerprint. 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.

Campylobacter jejuni are bacteria that cause symptoms including diarrhea, abdominal cramping, fever, nausea and vomiting. Rarely, an infection may lead to paralysis, which may require hospitalization and artificial respiration.

DATCP officials say this is the third major outbreak in Wisconsin since 2001 that has been tied to raw milk consumption.

The department is also reminding farmers and consumers that selling or distributing raw milk and raw milk products is illegal in Wisconsin.

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