Missoula, MT (KGVO-AM News) - The Missoula City-County Health Department issued a warning on Friday that some cows giving milk to Farmers Market participants tested positive for ‘Q-Fever’.

Director of Environmental Health Shannon Therriault provides details.

Got Milk at a Farmers Market Recently?

“We got information from the (Montana) Department of Public Health and Human Services that milk sold at a local farmers market came from a herd where two of the cows had been diagnosed with ‘Q fever’,” said Therriault.

Therriault said it was unclear which cows might have been involved.

“One of those cows wasn't producing milk but the other had produced some milk, but we don't know if that milk actually was sold that cow's milk was sold at the farmers market. We don't know if the last time it was milked if it was shedding bacteria. So we don't know if anybody was exposed to the bacteria that can cause Q fever.”

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The Health Department Advises to Drink only Pasteurized Milk

Despite the question as to whether those cows had ‘Q fever’, Therriault said it is unwise to drink milk that hasn’t been pasteurized.

“It really does bring up a timely reminder that unpasteurized milk is not safe to drink,” she said. “There are folks out there that tout the benefits of drinking milk that hasn't been pasteurized, but milk is pasteurized for a reason, and that is because it really is pretty easy to contaminate milk during the process of milking or storing or dealing with the milk and pasteurization kills those bacteria.”

Therriault described the symptoms of ‘Q Fever’ in humans.

“Those symptoms are pretty similar to those that you would see for a lot of different illnesses but they include fever, chills, fatigue, headache, muscle ache, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, pain in your chest or stomach and a nonproductive cough and it could include weight loss,” she said. “In this particular case there is a treatment which includes antibiotics so, and it can be pretty important to get the antibiotics and to have it treated correctly.”

Therriault Hearkened Back to the 1980's in Missoula

In the 1980s, Missoula experienced a large salmonella outbreak caused by unpasteurized milk from a local dairy. More than 100 cases were linked to the outbreak, and half of those cases were children 14 and younger. The strain of salmonella was multi-drug resistant, and 15% of those who got sick were hospitalized. An inspection of the dairy revealed no sanitation laws or practices on the books at that time were broken.

After that outbreak, Montana passed a law that all milk sold to consumers had to be pasteurized.

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