15 raw milk drinkers in Del Norte fall ill

The Associated Press

Article Launched: 08/18/2008 04:53:55 PM PDT


Source of Article: http://www.mercurynews.com/news/ci_10238862


CRESCENT CITY, Calif.A Del Norte County dairy has ended its raw milk program after more than a dozen people fell ill, including a woman who became partially paralyzed.

The raw milk came from Alexandre Family EcoDairy Farms, which supplied the product to 115 customers.

The county's Department of Public Health suspects at least 15 people were sickened by Campylobacter, a common bacteria found in domesticated animals. The department has confirmed three cases, and are awaiting test results for the other 12.

Alexandre EcoDairy voluntary stopped its raw milk program June 15 after learning one of its customers was hospitalized. That woman later became partially paralyzed by a rare disorder often associated with Campylobacter infection.

Raw, or unpasteurized, milk has surged in popularity in recent years, fueled by consumers' concerns about the chemicals and hormones used in traditional dairy farming.

It is illegal for most dairies to sell raw milk in California, but it is not illegal to get it from your own animal, so many raw milk devotees buy into cow share programs like the one set up by Alexandre EcoDairy. The dairy allowed consumers to buy stock in a cow and have access to its raw milk, as well as organic eggs, beef, ice cream and cheese.

Before joining the program, consumers were given a binder full of information the health risks and required to sign an agreement relieving the dairy of liability, said owner Blake Alexandre.

"I wanted people to be very clear on the risks," he said. "They're realizing that the risks are there and they'll realize that the benefits outweigh the risks and they'll come begging for it."



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