WV Lawmakers Legalize Raw Milk, Drink Raw Milk, Get Mysterious Stomach Bug

Image courtesy of (Tambako The Jaguar)

In West Virginia, farmers and fans of raw milk celebrated this week as the governor signed a bill that, among other things, legalizes the sale of raw milk to consumers. Some delegates celebrated by drinking cups of raw milk from a local farm, or at least tasting it. Some of them are now sick with a mysterious gastrointestinal illness. Is it a coincidence or deep irony?

It’s a coincidence, argues Delegate Scott Cadle, who had brought the raw milk from a farm in his district in for his colleagues to try. The bill signing was on Thursday, and that’s when he poured drinks for other delegates. Some of the delegates who tried it got sick, but some people who didn’t try the milk were sick, too. Sometimes illnesses just circulate within a workplace.

Cadle himself was out with a stomach bug on Monday, but he and others point out that a similar illness had been circulating around the state capitol building for weeks. “It ain’t because of the raw milk,” he told the Charleston Gazette-Mail. “With that many people around and that close quarters and in that air and environment, I just call it a big germ.” The illness includes diarrhea, vomiting, and a fever, and sounds like our old fast-spreading pal norovirus.

While fans prefer the flavor of unpasteurized cow’s milk and claim that it has health benefits, pasteurization kills bacteria, viruses, and parasites like E. coli and Salmonella. Its legal status varies from state to state.

Health officials are investigating the milk incident.

The Dangers of Raw Milk: Unpasteurized Milk Can Pose a Serious Health Risk [FDA]
Agency investigates lawmaker who distributed raw milk to celebrate bill passage [Charleston Gazette-Mail]
Anonymous tip claims raw milk caused illnesses at Capitol [WSAZ] (Thanks, Ann and Dirk!)

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