Raw milk-linked outbreak climbs to 71

The Campylobacter outbreak related to raw milk sold from a Pennsylvania dairy continues to climb with more than 70 cases now confirmed in a four-state area.

According to the Chambersburg, Pa., Public Opinion, the illness tied to raw milk from The Family Cow farm now ranks as the second most severe raw-milk-link outbreak in Pennsylvania in five years.  Health officials reported that raw milk produced at The Family Cow farm has sickened 71 people across Pennsylvania, Maryland, West Virginia and New Jersey.  At least nine people have been hospitalized.

The number of confirmed cases continues to increase. On Monday officials reports 65 confirmed cases of campylobcteriosis, and by Tuesday the number had increased to 71. If more cases are confirmed, the outbreak will soon become that state's largest outbreak since 2006.

The state's current most severe outbreak linked to raw milk originated in 2008 in Lancaster County. Seventy-two people were sickened in that outbreak.  Holli Senior, a spokeswoman with the Pennsylvania Department of Health, told the Public Opinion that the state has seen seven disease outbreaks linked to raw milk consumption since 2006.

Campylobacter bacteria, the same bacteria linked to the current outbreak, have been responsible for most of the outbreaks.

The Family Cow farm resumed bottling last week following an 11-day voluntary shutdown after consumers reportedly became ill after drinking the farm's raw milk. In addition to increased testing, the farm is also using a hotter bottle wash, which owner Edwin Shank believes may have played a role in the outbreak.

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