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Epidemiol Infect. 2003 Jun;130(3):461-8.

Milkborne general outbreaks of infectious intestinal disease, England and Wales, 1992-2000.

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PHLS Communicable Disease Surveillance Centre, 61 Colindale Avenue, London NW9 5EQ.


From 1 January 1992 to 31 December 2000, 27 milkborne general outbreaks of infectious intestinal disease (IID) were reported to the Public Health Laboratory Service (PHLS) Communicable Disease Surveillance Centre (CDSC). These outbreaks represented a fraction (2%) of all outbreaks of foodborne origin (N = 1774) reported to CDSC, but were characterized by significant morbidity. Unpasteurized milk (52%) was the most commonly reported vehicle of infection in milkborne outbreaks, with milk sold as pasteurized accounting for the majority of the rest (37%). Salmonellas (37%), Vero cytotoxin-producing Escherichia coli (VTEC) O157 (33%) and campylobacters (26%) were the most commonly detected pathogens, and most outbreaks were linked to farms (67%). This report highlights the importance of VTEC O157 as a milkborne pathogen and the continued role of unpasteurized milk in human disease.

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