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How common are raw milk-related illness?

States that allow the legal sale of raw milk (milk that has not been pasteurized to kill harmful germs including bacteria, viruses, and parasites) for human consumption have more raw milk-related outbreaks of illness than states that do not allow raw milk to be sold legally.

Among dairy product-associated outbreaks reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in which the investigators reported whether the product was pasteurized or raw, 82% were due to raw milk or cheese. From 1998 through 2009, 93 outbreaks due to consumption of raw milk or raw milk products were reported to the CDC. These resulted in 1,837 illnesses, 195 hospitalizations, and 2 deaths. Most of these illnesses were caused by Escherichia coli O157, Campylobacter, or Salmonella. It is important to note that a substantial proportion of the raw milk-associated disease burden falls on children; among the 93 raw dairy product outbreaks, 79% involved at least one person less than 20 years old.

Reported outbreaks represent the tip of the iceberg. For every outbreak and every illness reported, many others occur, and most illnesses are not part of recognized outbreaks.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.