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Number of people sickened by raw milk linked to Chambersburg farm up to 77

Outbreak could be the largest of its kind in Pennsylvania history

February 16, 2012|By JENNIFER FITCH | waynesboro@herald-mail.com

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. — The number of people sickened by raw milk linked to a Franklin County farm has climbed to 77, possibly making it the largest outbreak in Pennsylvania history.

Pennsylvania Department of Health officials said Thursday that the total number of cases continued to increase. The department has identified 67 cases in Pennsylvania, five in Maryland, two in New Jersey and three in West Virginia.

Individuals suffered digestive issues associated with a Campylobacter jejuni bacterial infection. The bacteria has been linked to unpasteurized milk sold by the Family Cow farm in Chambersburg.

“This outbreak has now become the largest outbreak associated with raw milk in Pennsylvania in at least the past two decades,” health department spokeswoman Holli Senior wrote in an email.

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The people who became sick from the raw milk fell ill between Jan. 17 and Feb. 1, Senior said.

Patients range in age from 2 to 74 years old, with about 34 percent of them younger than 18, she said.

Among the Pennsylvania cases, 18 were residents of Franklin County, one of Adams County and six of Cumberland County.

On Feb. 6, the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture cleared the dairy to resume production, which it had halted voluntarily. The department inspected the milking parlor and bottling areas.

Agriculture department officials did not immediately return a call Thursday about their testing, but Maryland health officials said they tested two unopened samples from the Family Cow farm and found the bacteria.

On the Family Cow website, farmer Edwin Shank wrote about changes made at the farm. Those include new hot-water and monitoring systems.

The Family Cow farm sells raw milk at its farm store and at drop-offs, grocery stores and markets around Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, the Lehigh Valley and southcentral Pennsylvania.

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