Nature 142, 507-508 (17 September 1938) | doi:10.1038/142507d0

Gastro-Enteritis Conveyed by Raw Milk


AN outbreak of food-poisoning occurred at Wilton, in Wiltshire, in October 1936 and was limited to consumers-chiefly children-of a particular supply of bottled raw milk (“A Report on an Outbreak of Food Poisoning due to Salmonella, Type ‘Dublin’ and Conveyed by Raw Milk”. By E. T. Conybeare and L. H. D. Thornton. Reps, on Pub. Health and Med. Subjects, No. 82. Ministry of Health, 1938. H.M. Stationery Office. 2d. net). The attack of illness commenced in 12-24 hours after consumption of the milk, the chief symptoms being headache, nausea and vomiting, and later diarrhœa, persisting for 1-3 days, and though the attacks were severe, there were no deaths. As the outbreak was not recognized for some days, bacteriological examination of the patients proved negative. However, from a specimen of the milk delivered on October 29, a Salmonella food-poisoning organism was isolated, afterwards identified as being a ‘Dublin’ type, and four days later, the same organisms was again isolated from milk supplied by the same producer. Confirmatory evidence was obtained by serological tests of the blood of nine convalescents, whose blood showed specific agglutination for type ‘Dublin’ in high dilution. Examination by agglutination tests of the herd of 51 cows supplying the milk picked out three cows with a high agglutination for the ‘Dublin’ type. Specimens of milk and dung from these three cows were examined. The milk from all three, and the dung from two, were negative, but from the dung of the third animal a heavy growth of Salmonella, ‘Dublin’ type, was obtained, and this ‘carrier’ cow was removed from the herd, and no further trouble ensued. It is remarked that no amount of care in milking and distribution of such a raw milk could prevent it from being a danger to the consumer.