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Food Poison Journal Food Poisoning Outbreaks and Litigation: Surveillance and Analysis

Utah water and raw milk outbreaks: updated figures

"Saratoga Springs outbreak" "campylobacter outbreak" "water campylobacter" "water outbreak"The Saratoga Springs water campylobacter outbreak, and an outbreak of salmonella linked to raw milk, continue to wreak havoc on good Utahans. The Utah County Health Department indicated today that the number of confirmed cases of campylobacter linked to Saratoga Springs drinking water has risen to 15, but that there are “many more individuals who are ill with symptoms consistent with campylobacter.” Loosely translated, this means that there are a lot of sick people in and around Saratoga Springs, and that the number of confirmed illnesses is nowhere near the number of people who are actually ill in the outbreak.

This should come as no surprise. Water outbreaks are notoriously big and devastating. One of the reasons is that entire water distribution systems can become contaminated due to one “contamination event”—i.e. one moment in time where animal feces (sometimes human) contaminates the drinking water supply. Due to the fluidity of the water and the interconnected nature of the distribution system, the entire water supply can become a serious health threat to anybody who comes in contact with it.

The “affected areas” in Saratoga Springs are as follows: Harvest Hills, Aspen Hills, Sunrise Meadows, Dalmore Meadows, Summer Village, Sunset Haven, Sierra Estates, Riverbend, The Cove at the Jordan River, The Gables, Sergeant Court, Daybreak at Harvest Hills and Hillcrest condominiums. Westlake High School and Harvest Hills Elementary School and Lakeview Academy are also in the affected area.

Raw milk, a known vector for severe enteric disease, continues to leave its consumers sick and injured. Utah residents are also currently experiencing an outbreak of Salmonella illnesses due to consumption of unpasteurized milk sold by Real Foods stores in Orem and Heber City, Utah.. At least 6 illnesses have been reported to date in Utah, Salt Lake and Wasatch counties.

According to CDC, between 1998 and 2008, there were 85 outbreaks of human infections resulting from consumption of raw milk reported to CDC, including a total of 1,614 reported illnesses, 187 hospitalizations and two deaths. Illnesses and deaths have also been linked to the consumption of fresh cheese made from raw (unpasteurized milk), especially the Mexican-style queso fresco cheeses. And currently, Governor Doyle from Wisconsin is considering whether to sign a bill that would legalize the sale of raw milk.