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AVMA 2018: Multistate Listeria Outbreak Due to Raw Milk

AVMA 2018: Multistate Listeria Outbreak Due to Raw Milk

At the AVMA conference, one of the topics
I’ll be speaking on is a multistate outbreak of Listeria monocytogenes that
was associated with drinking raw milk. Now, many of us recognize that
consumption of raw milk—meaning milk that has not been pasteurized from a cow
or other animal—can carry germs that can make people sick. What we hadn’t seen
before at the CDC is a multistate outbreak of Listeria which can cause really
severe illness, especially in people who have weakened immune systems, and when
those people consume raw milk they might develop Listeria. So, what we hadn’t seen
is a multistate outbreak where raw milk might have been produced by a cow on
Wednesday, shipped across state lines— which is not permissible or legal to
do—and then consumed by people who have weakened immune systems. We had one
instance in an outbreak where this occurred and it actually caused the
death of an elderly person and a severe illness which resulted in the
hospitalization of another person. So, our lesson learned from this outbreak
was No. 1 the importance of really talking to the public about the risks of
consuming raw milk and ensuring that they’re aware that pasteurized milk
really reduces the chance of them getting sick from the germs. And
increasing agricultural awareness about the risk of not only producing the raw
milk in potentially unsanitary conditions, but delivering that raw milk
in violation of law across state lines because it can cause a multistate
outbreak across the United States. That involves a very intense response
with huge economic costs in addition to the tragedy that occurred with the death
of the person. One of the things that we’ve actually seen in terms of raw milk
sales is many states, especially in the past 10 to 15 years, have actually
implemented legislation that makes raw milk sales more permissible in their
states. What we see is people who drive across state lines to actually
purchase raw milk in the states where it’s legal, and then they take it back
home. We’ve also seen an increase in internet sales and buyers clubs.
So, internet sales: If you can picture many of the sites that are readily
available for use to sell other commonly produced or used home goods, they’re
actually being used as a conveyance to sell raw milk to consumers. And then
buyers clubs: These are clubs that are popping up all over the internet where
producers might have raw milk or other products, such as raw dairy products or
even meat sometimes, and advertise them for sale and then a group might get
together and organize a system by which those products are transported across
state lines. In the case of the outbreak that I mentioned, the raw milk product
was transported all the way from a farm in Pennsylvania to consumers in Florida
and to consumers in California, which subsequently resulted in illness.

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