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Raw Milk In Europe May Contain A Serious Virus

The CDC currently recommends only consuming pasteurized or ultra-pasteurized milk and dairy products. This is because heating milk kills off the bird flu virus (H5N1) now circulating among dairy cows in the USA. Another serious virus that pasteurization and ultra-pasteurization of milk kills off is the tick-borne encephalitis that occurs throughout central and eastern Europe.

Tick bites are the major way tick-borne encephalitis is spread. But a minority of cases are spread by consuming raw milk or dairy products from recently infected livestock (goats, sheep, and cows).

Tick-borne encephalitis is a serious viral infection of the central nervous system. It starts out with symptoms such as fever, headaches, chills, but up to 39% of cases result in more serious neurological symptoms (meningitis, encephalitis). Infected persons may experience long-term neurological effects lasting years.

Two ways to avoid the tick-borne encephalitis virus: only consuming pasteurized milk and dairy products (and avoiding raw milk and dairy products) or getting vaccinated with the tick-borne encephalitis vaccine (TicoVac, TBE vaccine).

Bottom line: Only consume pasteurized or ultra-pasteurized milk and dairy products.

From article (page 3) in Medscape: Fast Five Quiz: Diagnose and Treat Tick-Borne Illnesses

Tick-borne encephalitis virus can be transmitted by ticks and the alimentary tract. A recent meta-analysis of 410 foodborne tick-borne encephalitis cases, mostly from a region in central and eastern Europe, aimed to describe cases of tick-borne encephalitis acquired through alimentary transmission in Europe from 1980 to 2021.

The researchers found that most foodborne tick-borne encephalitis cases were associated with consuming unpasteurized goat and other dairy products and were reported during the warmer months (April to August). They also observed that neuroinvasive disease was common, occurring in 38.9% of cases, and the median incubation period was short (3.5 days). Major heterogeneity was found among patients.

Other research confirms these findings, with consumers of unpasteurized milk and dairy products purchased from local farms in areas where tick-borne encephalitis is endemic proving the most vulnerable and familial alimentary infections frequently recorded (mainly in children). Food-transmitted tick-borne encephalitis can be monophasic or biphasic and impart persistent neurologic and psychiatric symptoms. Alimentary tick-borne encephalitis can be effectively prevented with vaccination and by consumption of pasteurized dairy products, and clinicians might want to ask patients about consuming raw milk products.

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