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Colorado Investigates Local Outbreak Caused By Drinking Raw Milk

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Local health authorities in Pueblo and El Paso counties in Colorado are warning people to stay away from raw milk because of an outbreak of infections.

Some 20 people have been confirmed sick after drinking raw milk supplied by a ranch to members of a herd-share program, where people buy stakes in livestock and receive a part of their products or meat. Selling raw milk is illegal in Colorado, but herd-share programs are an exception, the Washington Times reports.

The infection, called campylobacteriosis, causes fever, abdominal cramps, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting, and in worst case scenarios, death. Those with compromised immune systems, very young children or the elderly are the most susceptible to the infection.

Sometimes people think that raw foods of all kinds are healthier,

Dr. Christie Nevin- Woods, medical director for El Paso County Public Health says. “But in this case, raw milk is very dangerous to be drinking.”

Campylobacteriosis is caused by the Camplobacter bacteria and is one of the most common bacterial infections in people, often caused by food. However, the infection can also spread through sexual contact, contact with infected fecal material and drinking contaminated water.

Animals in farms are the primary source of the infection – poultry, cattle, sheep, pigs, ostriches and shellfish. It may also come from pets like cats and dogs.

Symptoms of campylobacteriosis usually occur two to five days after infection and can range from one to ten days, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). The infection usually lasts from three to six days and there is generally no need for intensive treatment, except for rehydration.

WHO recommends safe and hygienic slaughtering techniques to reduce contamination. Heating through cooking or pasteurization is the only effective way to remove the bacteria from contaminated food items. For those traveling to developing countries, WHO says to be extra vigilant regarding the food they eat, particularly if the food is raw.

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