5 sick; Campylobater again in raw milk in Alaska; really is Groundhog Day

Folks in Alaska must be undergoing their own kind of public health Groundhog Day – where the same day is relived with slight variations.

But unlike the Bill Murray movie, no matter how much the health types cajole, persuade, and act nice, things won’t change.

For the second time this year, and third since 2011, the Alaska Section of Epidemiology is investigating another outbreak of Campylobacter infection colbert.raw.milkassociated with the consumption of raw milk. This new outbreak is associated with raw milk distributed by the same Kenai Peninsula cow-share program that was linked to a Campylobacter outbreak sickened at least 31 people in February 2013.

In the current investigation, five cases of Campylobacter infection have been identified to date. Two of the five people sought medical attention. Testing by the Alaska State Public Health Laboratory identified the bacteria strain as Campylobacter jejuni. The exact same strain of C. jejuni was found in cow manure obtained earlier this year at the cow-share farm that distributed the raw milk. “The genetic fingerprint of the bacteria isolated from these two people and the cow is unique. It has never been seen before in the United States,” said Dr. Joe McLaughlin, State Epidemiologist. “These outbreaks are an unfortunate reminder of the inherent risks associated with raw milk consumption, and underscore the importance of pasteurization.”