Boulder County Press Release – A second child has been hospitalized with severe illness after becoming ill from drinking unpasteurized goat milk in June that came from Billy Goat Dairy in Longmont. The first child was hospitalized on June 27 and remains hospitalized. Lab tests have confirmed that the non-pasteurized milk product from the Billy Goat Dairy farm is associated with illness in 30 people.
“The news of these children’s illnesses is heartbreaking,” said Murielle Romine, Boulder County Public Health (BCPH) communicable disease control program coordinator. “My hope is that this helps people to understand how dangerous consuming unpasteurized milk really is – especially for children and people with weakened immune systems.”
Both Campylobacter and E. coli O157 bacteria were identified at the state public health laboratory in lab tests from samples taken at Billy Goat Diary farm. The strain of Campylobacter found in the raw goat milk, and the strain of E. coli found in the goats is an identical match to the strains found in the ill people. These bacteria are found in the intestines of animals and can be passed in their feces to food, water, and milk products that haven’t been pasteurized.
“I can’t stress enough how important pasteurization is to protecting yourself and your family. It’s an easy procedure that can be done at home and will destroy bacteria like the one that has made these children so ill,” said Romine.
Pasteurizing milk does not cause lactose intolerance and allergic reactions. Both raw milk and pasteurized milk can cause allergic reactions in people sensitive to milk proteins. Pasteurization also does not reduce milk’s nutritional value.
During pasteurization, the temperature of milk is raised to at least 161 degrees Fahrenheit for more than 15 seconds; it is then rapidly cooled. Pasteurization helps to extend milk’s shelf life and destroy many harmful bacteria, including E.coli, Salmonella, Campylobacter, and Listeria.
Campylobacter infection can cause fever, diarrhea, abdominal cramps, nausea, and vomiting and can lead to Guillain-Barré syndrome, permanent paralysis, and possibly death. E. coli infection can cause severe diarrhea, abdominal cramping, and vomiting. Serious cases of E. coli can lead to Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome (HUS), causing kidney failure and possibly death.
The Billy Goat Dairy operates a goat share program in which individuals buy a share of a goat, and in return they receive raw, unpasteurized milk. The sale of unpasteurized milk is illegal in Colorado, but distribution through a goat-share cooperative is permitted.