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Raw Milk Makes More People Sick Than Recognized, Study Finds

Update Date: Dec 12, 2013 09:48 AM EST

Raw milk intake infects one in every six people with bacterial or parasite infections, a new study finds.

Researchers at the Minnesota Department of Health found 530 laboratory-confirmed cases of infections. These infections included almonella, E. coli and Campylobacter, along with parasitic infections called cryptosporidiosis.

Milk that has not been pasteurized is often referred as raw milk.

Based on the available data researchers estimated that 17 percent of raw milk consumers became ill in the course of study which counts to total 20,502 Minnesotans. However the data is expected to rise further more as many of such cases are not reported or confirmed.

“The risk for illness associated with raw milk is far greater than what was determined based on recognized outbreaks,” said study researcher Trisha Robinson, an epidemiologist at the Minnesota Department of Health, in the press release.

Most common diseases that occur with the pathogens that contaminate raw milk are diarrhea, stomach cramps and vomiting. These last for about a week or more.

“Fortunately, most people recover, but sometimes, it can cause more severe symptoms or long-term diseases, such as a nervous system disorder called Guillain-Barre syndrome, or reactive arthritis, which is inflammation in the joints that develops in response to an infection by bacteria, ” added Robinson.

During the study, around 20 per cent of those who were infected developed a serious complication of bacterial infections called hemolytic uremic syndrome. This syndrome causes failure of kidney.

“Raw milk’s health benefits are not scientifically proven,” Robinson concluded in the press release. “But what we can say is that people are getting sick after drinking raw milk.”

The study is published in the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases.

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