67 sick from raw milk cheese in Kansas

For all the fawning media coverage and energy expended, I figured there would be millions of Americans drinking raw milk.

A story in the Dayton Daily News pegs the number at 500,000.

That’s nothing when it comes to food dollars. And there are reasons why the numbers are so low. As the U.S. Centers for Disease Control reported in its Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report today,

“On October 26, 2007, a family health clinic nurse informed the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) that Campylobacter jejuni had been isolated from two ill persons from different families who were members of a closed community in a rural Kansas county. By October 29, 17 additional members of the community had reported gastrointestinal illness and visited the clinic within a week. All 19 persons reported consuming fresh cheese on October 20 that was made the same day at a community fair from unpasteurized milk obtained from a local dairy.

"This report summarizes the findings of an investigation by KDHE and the local health department to determine the source and extent of the outbreak. Eating fresh cheese at the fair was the only exposure associated with illness (relative risk [RR] = 13.9). Of 101 persons who ate the cheese, 67 (66%) became ill. C. jejuni isolates from two ill persons had indistinguishable pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) patterns, and the isolate from a third ill person was nearly identical to the other two. Although all samples of cheese tested negative for Campylobacter, results of the epidemiologic investigation found an association between illness and consumption of fresh cheese made from unpasteurized milk. To minimize the risk for illness associated with milkborne pathogens, unpasteurized milk and milk products should not be consumed."