Following potential exposure to bacteria from unpasteurized milk sold at a farmers’ market in Missoula County, the Missoula City-County Health Department is warning residents of the dangers of consuming unpasteurized, or “raw,” milk.
Milk that was recently sold at a local farmers market came from a herd where two cows tested positive for Coxiella burnetii, which is the bacteria that causes Q fever. While one of those cows had not yet produced milk, the other produced about 10% of the farmer’s yield.
“We don’t know if the cow was shedding the bacteria at the time it was milked, or if that cow’s milk was sold at the farmers market,” said Environmental Health Director Shannon Therriault. “So, we can’t say for sure whether anyone was exposed. However, what we do know is that unpasteurized milk can contain harmful bacteria that can make you and your loved ones sick.”
Unpasteurized milk products have been linked to outbreaks of E. coli, campylobacter, salmonella, brucella, listeria and cryptosporidium. In the case of Q fever, symptoms can take two or three weeks to present following exposure. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, symptoms of Q fever include fever, chills, fatigue, headache, muscle aches, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, chest pain, stomach pain, weight loss and a non-productive cough.