California Raw Milk Linked to Largest Salmonella Outbreak in a Decade, Records Reveal

By Madz Dizon

Jul 10, 2024 07:02 PM EDT

California Raw Milk Linked to Largest Salmonella Outbreak in a Decade, Records Reveal

(Photo : Pierre Crom/Getty Images)

Newly released state records reveal that a California farm's raw milk has been linked to a far wider outbreak of salmonella illnesses than previously known.

Dozens of cases have been reported, highlighting the severity of the situation.

Salmonella Infections Linked From Raw Farm California

According to records, as of February, there were at least 165 reported cases of salmonella infections linked to products from Raw Farm in Fresno, California. Health officials have confirmed that this salmonella outbreak linked to raw milk is the largest reported in the US in the past decade.

Health officials are cautioning the public against consuming unpasteurized milk in light of a bird flu virus that is currently circulating among US dairy cows, AP News reported.

As part of this warning, the size of the outbreak has been revealed. According to federal health officials, the bird flu, specifically Type A H5N1, has been found in over 140 US dairy herds. They have also reported that the virus has been detected in raw milk at alarming levels.

State and local health officials have been lacking in their updates to the public regarding the extent of the salmonella outbreak. 

The last report was made in October by officials in San Diego, who only mentioned about a dozen cases. During that period, Raw Farm decided to recall milk and heavy cream that had been sold between Oct. 11 and Nov. 6.

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Raw Milk Exposure From Bird Flu

According to US News & World Report, the transmission of the H5N1 avian influenza virus from raw cow's milk to humans may not occur rapidly. 

A study conducted by scientists at the University of Wisconsin-Madison revealed that mice and ferrets exhibited symptoms of influenza after being exposed to the H5N1 bird flu virus through nasal droplets.

However, the study suggested that the airborne transmission of the virus was relatively restricted. The disease can spread rapidly among people through airborne transmission. 

Researchers discovered that mice contracted bird flu after consuming even small amounts of raw milk from an infected cow during their experiments.

Researchers then turned to ferrets as a means of simulating the spread of influenza viruses in humans. This is because ferrets exhibit flu symptoms that closely resemble those experienced by humans, such as fever, congestion, and sneezing.

To assess the airborne transmission of the bird flu virus, researchers conducted an experiment where infected ferrets were placed in close proximity to uninfected ones. During the study, all four exposed ferrets remained healthy and no virus was detected in their systems. Upon further examination, it was discovered that one out of the four individuals had generated H5N1 antibodies.

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