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Agency warns against drinking raw milk

The Arkansas Department of Health has issued a Public Health Advisory to consumers of raw cow and goat milk and recommends caution when considering drinking or eating raw milk products from either cows or goats.

Raw, unpasteurized milk from cows and goats can contain harmful bacteria, parasites, or viruses that can cause serious illness, hospitalization and even death.

Dangers

* Bacteria that may be found in raw, unpasteurized milk include: Brucella, Campylobacter, Listeria, Bovine Tuberculosis, Salmonella, Shiga toxin-producing E. coli 0157, Shigella, Yersinia.

* Parasites and viruses that may be found in raw, unpasteurized milk include Giardia and Norovirus.

* Raw milk-related illnesses may range from diarrhea, stomach cramping, and vomiting to kidney failure, paralysis, and chronic disorders.

People at Risk of Raw Milk-Associated Illness

* Infants, children, pregnant women, the elderly, and people with weakened immune systems, such as people with cancer, an organ transplant, or HIV/AIDS are most likely to be seriously affected by raw milk-associated illness.

* Healthy people of any age can get sick or die after drinking contaminated raw milk.

States, like Arkansas, that allow the sale of raw milk products are twice as likely to have raw milk-associated outbreaks. From 2007-2012, there were 81 outbreaks of infections due to consumption of raw milk resulting in 979 illnesses and 73 hospitalizations in the United States. Because not all cases of food-borne illness are recognized and reported, the actual number of illnesses associated with raw milk is likely much greater. Raw milk-associated disease burden falls primarily on children; 59 percent of outbreaks involved at least one person aged 5 years or younger.

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