Twenty-one people in Vermont who may have consumed raw milk from a cow infected with rabies may be looking at those painful shots in their future.
The raw milk drinkers are being advised by the Vermont Health Department to see their doctors about rabies shots.
While a rabid cow might seem like an isolated event, this is not the first report Vermont has issued this year about cows carrying rabies.
In February, the Vermont Health Department issued a statewide alert about two rabid cows on a small Charlotte dairy farm spreading rabies through direct contact or from consuming unpasteurized milk. One of the two cows was provided so-called "raw milk."
Concerning this latest rabid cow, Vermont’s Health Department and it Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets have identified those individuals who may have consumed the raw milk, including people who bought raw milk from the small Lamoille County farm.
Vermont’s press release makes it clear that "raw milk can potentially contain a wide variety of harmful bacteria or viruses — including Salmonella, E. coli O157:H7, Listeria Campylobacter and Brucella, and the rabies virus."
Vermont’s Legislature, however, just loosened up regulation of raw milk sales in the state, lifting the 50 quart per day cap on how much can be sold. Groups like the Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont, and Rural Vermont guided passage of the Fresh Milk Restoration Act of 2009 (H .125).
Rabies is a fatal viral disease found mainly in wildlife (especially raccoons, foxes, bats, skunks and woodchucks) but can infect domestic animals and humans. The Centers for Disease Control has no record of rabies being transmitted by drinking raw milk, but health officials say they cannot rule out the possibility.