Everything Animals: Foodborne illnesses - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Everything Animals: Foodborne illnesses

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Doctor Karen Anderson of the Vermont Veterinary Medical Association discusses foodborne illnesses in pet food and their effects on both humans and pets.

People and pets exhibit the same symptoms when struck with a foodborne illness. These symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, and discomfort. 

Exposure to foodborne illnesses happens from environmental contamination. This usually happens when fecal matter is in contact with food. These contaminants can come from the animals used in the products, the people who handled the pet food or even packaging.

Dr. Anderson advises everyone wash hands before and after handling all foods.

In recent years there has been a movement to give pets raw food. Dr. Anderson noted that this is controversial in the veterinary world.

However, she and the VVMA provided these facts for more information on raw milk consumption for humans and animals.

Where the term "raw milk" is used it indicates milk (whole or skim) which has not been

pasteurized or fresh milk products such as cream, soft cheeses, yogurt, or ice cream that

are made from unpasteurized milk.

ƒ{ The prevalence and incidence of disease in populations is a function of exposure risk.

ƒ{ Increasing consumption of raw milk in human populations will increase risk of

exposure and disease in these populations.

ƒ{ Subsets of human populations differ in their likelihood of contracting an infectious

disease upon exposure, with immune-compromised individuals being at increased

risk of disease. Young children under the age of 5 years, the elderly, and pregnant

woman or woman considering pregnancy have an increased risk of disease

associated with raw milk consumption.

ƒ{ Raw milk from lactating dairy animals can become contaminated with pathogenic

organisms either by shedding of the pathogen directly into milk from the udder or by

manure contamination of the milk during harvest. Pasteurization destroys pathogenic

organisms that contaminate milk by either route.

ƒ{ Lactating dairy animals (cattle, sheep, and goats) may show no health problems (i.e.

commonly appear normal) when shedding pathogens that may cause human disease

in their milk.

ƒ{ Epidemiological studies suggest consumption of raw milk during childhood is

associated with reduced rate of allergies supporting the "hygiene hypothesis" of

immune system development and modulation through routine exposure to low levels

of some pathogens or antigenic stimuli. However, few of these studies are able to

separate the effect of raw milk consumption from other exposures such as contact

with farm environments or farm animals. Additional research is required to support

the association with raw milk consumption and allergy prevention. No authors

conducting this research have recommended raw milk consumption as a way to

prevent development of allergies due to the superseding potential hazard from

foodborne pathogen exposure in raw milk.

ƒ{ Raw milk does not meet the definition of a "probiotic." Probiotics are intended to

assist the body's naturally occurring microbial populations to re-colonize the

digestive tract following an insult to the normal gut flora. Raw milk does contain

bacteria (the lactic acid bacteria such as Lactobacillus spp. and Bifidobacterium spp.)

that are commonly used as probiotic bacteria. However it is not clear that raw milk

contains adequate amounts of these bacteria to either act as a probiotic, or to reduce

the potential growth of pathogenic organisms.

ƒ{ The so called "healthy" or "beneficial" bacteria found in milk and their potential

metabolites or products may limit growth of potential pathogenic organisms,

although the presence of these compounds remains undefined and is likely variable

in raw milk so they can not be relied upon to eliminate potential human pathogens

from raw milk.

Organisms that have been isolated from raw milk and associated human disease linked to

raw milk consumption include:

































































Gastrointestinal disease, diarrhea to bloody diarrheas pp Brucellosis 






Campylobacter jenuni*

Coxiella burnetii*

Escherichia coli (EHEC)*

E. coli 0157:H7

Listeria monocytogenes*

Mycobacterium bovis




* indicates pathogens presently known to be isolated from animals or milk from dairy farms

spp.* Sore throat, sepsis, scarlet fever
spp.* Gastrointestinal disease, "food poisoning"
spp. * Gastrointestinal disease, diarrhea to bloody diarrhea
Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome
Gastrointestinal disease, diarrhea to bloody diarrhea,


Fact Sheet on Raw Milk Consumption and Human Health Risks

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