Two people in the Chattanooga, Tennessee area are sick with cryptosporidiosis after consuming raw milk. Cryptosporidiosis is caused by the parasite Cryptosporidium and results in symptoms such as vomiting, fever, watery diarrhea, and stomach cramps. Symptoms usually begin between 2 and 10 days after infection and last about 1 to 2 weeks.
In both of the cases, the victims consumed raw milk from a dairy cow-sharing program. Dairy cow sharing programs were legalized in Tennessee in 2009, which allowed a larger access to raw milk. Since the legalizations, there has been an increase in illnesses caused by raw milk. According to the Tennessee Department of Health, raw milk is about 150 times more likely to be the source of foodborne illnesses. Raw milk increases the chance of foodborne illness because it is unpasteurized. Pasteurization involves the heating of milk to a temperature that kills harmful bacteria, therefore making the milk safer to drink.
Raw milk related outbreaks are not new in Tennessee. In 2013, nine children in Tennessee developed illnesses after drinking raw milk contaminated with E. coli. Five of the children need to be hospitalized, and three children developed a serious complication called hemolytic uremic syndrome. Hemolytic uremic syndrome can damage kidneys and even cause kidney failure.