LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Three Michigan women who reported consuming raw milk have been diagnosed with a rare bacterial infection called Q fever, health officials said.
The raw milk was from a Livingston County farm, where people own shares of cows in exchange for unpasteurized milk products, the Michigan Department of Community Health said. Two Q fever cases were reported in Washtenaw County and one in Monroe County, the department said.
Federal and state regulators have said raw milk carries a risk of disease because it hasn't been through the germ-destroying pasteurization process. However, interest in raw milk has been growing among those who think pasteurization reduces milk's nutritional value.
"The public should be aware that raw milk and other unpasteurized dairy products have not been heat treated and, therefore, pose a potentially serious risk to human health," Dr. Dean Sienko, interim chief medical executive for the Department of Community Health, said in a statement.
Q fever has been reported in some other parts of the country. Earlier this week, health officials said they were working to contain Q fever infections in Washington and Montana that had sickened at least 11 people. Those cases were spread from goats, officials said.
The Michigan illnesses were reported Thursday by AnnArbor.com and The Detroit News.
The women diagnosed with Q fever are in their 30s or 40s, the Department of Community Health said, and one required prolonged hospitalization.
People can become ill with the bacteria if they inhale barnyard dust particles contaminated by infected animals or consume raw milk. They suffer flulike symptoms, including high fever, headaches, malaise, abdominal pain, chills, vomiting and diarrhea.
Left untreated, serious cases of Q fever can lead to chronic illness that may affect a person's heart, liver, brain and lungs and may be fatal.
Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.