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Health Department of Northwest Michigan
serving Antrim, Charlevoix, Emmet, and Otsego Counties
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Downstate infections demonstrate risks of drinking raw milk
Cow-sharing source of two cases of Q fever reported in southeast Michigan

(June 21, 2011)  The two downstate patients who recently became ill with Q fever from drinking raw milk highlight the risks of drinking unpasteurized milk, local public health officials say.  

"It's not possible to keep all bacteria out of raw milk," said Joshua Meyerson, MD, Medical Director for the Health Department of Northwest Michigan.  "Raw milk has not been heat treated, or pasteurized, to kill germs like salmonella, campylobacter, or E.coli. Pasteurization kills these harmful bacteria that cause foodborne illnesses."


In most cases of foodborne illnesses, symptoms resemble intestinal flu and may last a few hours or even several days. Symptoms can range from mild to serious and include abdominal cramps; nausea; vomiting; diarrhea, which is sometimes bloody; fever; and/or dehydration.

Foodborne illnesses are especially dangerous to pregnant women, infants, young children, the elderly, and people with weakened immune systems, Meyerson said.

"If you think you've developed a foodborne illness from drinking raw milk or dairy products, call your doctor right away," said Meyerson.  "Early antibiotic treatment of suspected cases can prevent serious illness."

The Health Department of Northwest Michigan is mandated by the Michigan Public Health Code to promote wellness, prevent disease, provide quality healthcare, address health problems of vulnerable populations, and protect the environment for the residents and visitors of Antrim, Charlevoix, Emmet, and Otsego counties. for more information about Q fever, visit