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Swan Bros Raw Milk Campylobacter Food Poisoning

Posted in Campylobacter,Our Blog,Outbreaks & Recalls on June 24, 2020

Oklahoma is undergoing a statewide recall for raw milk products produced by Swan Bros. Dairy, Inc.. At this time, there are 10 Campylobacter illnesses linked to Swan Bros Raw Milk, according to the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry.

Swan Bros Raw Milk Outbreak

Officials said anyone who has purchased or received their raw milk products between April 9 and June 22 is strongly urged to dispose of any remaining product.

The raw milk products were sold in plastic half-gallons, gallons and pints directly from the Swan Bros. Dairy in Claremore and include raw whole milk, raw 2% milk, raw skim milk and raw heavy cream sold in pints, officials said.

Raw Milk in the US

Raw milk continues to be a pressing issue in the United States. With multiple outbreaks of foodborne illnesses occurring each year at the hands of unpasteurized milk, the CDC and other health officials have to constantly remind people not to drink raw milk or consume products made with raw milk. It is only through the process of pasteurization that milk can have all of its potential pathogens destroyed. This process was developed by Louis Pasteur in the 1800s and represented one of the first forays into understanding how illnesses spread. The process involves heating milk, or other liquids, to the point that all potential pathogens can no longer exist in that environment. Unpasteurized milk has the propensity to contain bacteria, including E. coli, Salmonella, and Campylobacter, among others.

What is Campylobacter?

Campylobacter is the most common form of food poisoning in the United States. In fact, it is also one of the most common causes of diarrheal illness in the United States. There are about 1.3 million cases of campylobacter each year. Most cases are not part of the outbreaks like this one but are individual (called sporadic cases).

Symptoms

The symptoms for this form of food poisoning are common to many of the other foodborne illness. These include:

  • diarrhea (sometimes bloody),
  • fever,
  • and abdominal cramps.

Symptoms can start after 2-5 days a person is exposed to bacteria. It can last for about a week. People who have a weakened immune system, children, elderly and pregnant women could have more complications during treatment. in these cases, there is also a risk and concern for potential long term complications, including reactive arthritis.

How Does Someone Catch Campylobacter?

Most cases of campylobacteriosis are from eating raw or undercooked poultry or when raw or undercooked poultry cross-contaminates other food products.  Human-to-human transmission is extremely rare.  Outbreaks are rare for this bacteria, but have been known to come from unpasteurized dairy products such as milk, cheese, and yogurt, or from contaminated water or produce.

Why are Campylobacter infections so common?

A very small amount of Campylobacter bacteria can make someone sick, with as little as 500 cells being infectious.  To put that into prospective, one drop of juice from raw chicken meat has enough of the pathogen in it to infect a healthy person.

How is Campylobacter Diagnosed and Treated?

A fecal culture (or stool test) is the most common diagnostic procedure for campylobacter illness. After 48 hours, the doctors will look for leukocytes in the culture. Most of the time, a campylobacter infection is treated with routine antibiotics.

Campylobacter does not spread from person to person but it can be transferred to an individual when they come in contact with the infected person.

Why is the growing antibiotic resistance a cause of concern during this outbreak?

Campylobacter bacteria that is isolated from clinical samples that are collected from the people sickened at this outbreak were found to be resistant to first line of antibiotics. This means that the treatments would be much more difficult and complex to do in this case.

Antibiotic resistance is categorized by the ability of the bacteria to modify themselves and survive in the presence of an antibiotic drug. Antibiotic resistance happens when the antibiotics that we take in our normal life also kills the good bacteria along with the bad ones. This causes the few bad ones that are left to overpower the good bacteria or worse even transfer some of their drug resistance properties.

An increase in antibiotic resistance can result in an increase in number of hospitalizations, development of bloodstream infection and treatment failure in patients. It can increase the complications of the infections and also increase mortality. According to WHO, there are very few antibiotics that are discovered and developed to replace the ones that have proved out to be ineffective. Antibiotic resistance has really become a pressing issue for this generation of individuals.

What are the complications of Campylobacter infections?

According to the CDC, “some people experience complications, such as irritable bowel syndrome, temporary paralysis, and arthritis. In people with weakened immune systems, such as those with a blood disorder, with AIDS, or receiving chemotherapy, Campylobacter occasionally spreads to the bloodstream and causes a life-threatening infection.”

However, there is another concerning complication: Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS).

What Exactly is Guillain-Barré Syndrome?

Guillain-Barré syndrome is a rare autoimmune disorder.  That’s a way of saying that the person’s own immune system turns on the body, attacking nerves.  This causes subsequent muscle weakness and sometimes even paralysis.  These symptoms can last anywhere from a few weeks up to several years.  Some people may not fully recover and suffer permanent nerve damage.  Other people may even die as a result of complications.

The exact cause of Guillain-Barre syndrome is unknown. But two-thirds of patients report symptoms of an infection in the six weeks preceding. These include respiratory or a gastrointestinal infection (like Campylobacter) or Zika virus. Campylobacter and Salmonella are among the most common causes of Guillain-Barré Syndrome.

How The Lange Law Firm Can Help

Our mission is to help families who have been harmed by contaminated food or water.  When corporations cause Campylobacter food poisoning outbreaks, we use the law to hold them accountable.  The Lange Law Firm is one of the only law firms in the nation focused on representing families in food poisoning lawsuits.

If you got sick from Swan Bros Raw Milk and are interested in making a legal claim for compensation, we can help.  Our Campylobacter lawyer can help you pursue compensation for your Campylobacter food poisoning.  Call us for a free no obligation legal consultation at (833) 330-3663 or send us an e-mail here.

By: Candess Zona-Mendola, Editor