In September 2014, dozens of players of the Durand, WI football team fell sick following a team dinner. Health officials concluded the outbreak was due to the consumption of unpasteurized milk. Now, however, there’s reason to believe that the milk might not have been the cause of the illness afterall.
“Some people got sick who didn’t drink the milk,” says Diana Reed, whose farm supplied the milk.
According to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, a total of 38 people fell ill following the team dinner and 26 of those illnesses stemmed from the bacteria Campylobacter jejuni. This same strain of bacteria was found in some of the manure of the cows at Reed’s farm.
However, Reed points out that Campylobacter is commonly found in all cows in Wisconsin and no Campylobacter was found in the farm’s bulk tank, which was tested 6 days after the outbreak.
Furthermore, this particular strain of Campylobacter is also found in chicken, which was also served at the team dinner. At the dinner, 56 people ate chicken and 38 got sick; 43 people drank the milk and 33 got sick. This leaves 5 people who did not drink the milk but still had Campylobacter.
“We’ve had four boys in football in Durand through the last eight years. I’ve lived and breathed Durand football. This was the last thing I would ever want to be involved in – making a football team sick,” says Reed.