The state health department has traced the source of the campylobacter outbreak that has infected now more than 21 people back to Peninsula Dairy, a dairy farm in Kasilof on the Kenai Peninsula; two people have been hospitalized.
The farm operates a cow-share program. The milk is distributed to shareholders throughout the Kenai Peninsula, in Anchorage, and in Sitka. There is at least one secondary case of an infant who became ill after having close contact with a laboratory-confirmed case.
The Peninsula Clarion reports tate veterinarian Bob Gerlach and Donna Fearey, a nurse epidemiologist for the state, on Tuesday inspected Peninsula Dairy, owned by Kevin Byers. Gerlach said they saw no problems with Byers’ operation.
“In comparison to most dairies, he’s doing a very pretty good job,” Gerlach said.
He said Byers had modern and clean equipment and his cows were healthy and well-fed.
In a 2011 outbreak, 18 people were stricken with Campylobacter that was eventually traced back to a farm owned by Byers’ brother in the Matanuska Valley.
The campylobacter infection was of a different strain, however, and Gerlach said connecting the two outbreaks would be inappropriate.
The department cannot close Byers’ farm as cow-share programs are legal, McLaughlin said. The direct sale of raw milk is, however, illegal, he said.