Tick virus found in Norwegian milk

Cow milk mountainCows on a mountain path. Photo: Dan Burton / Unsplash

Tick virus found in milk from Norwegian farms

Researchers have found a tick virus in raw milk from Norwegian farms. They warn the Government against allowing the sale of raw milk directly from farmers to consumers.

Researchers from the Norwegian University of Life Sciences and the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, have collected and analysed untreated milk from a number of Norwegian dairy farms over a period of four years, writes NRK.

The result surprised the researchers. It turned out that cow’s milk from three of the five dairy farms contained the tick-borne virus TBE, which, among other diseases, can cause encephalitis and meningitis.

There have been cases of persons, who have become ill after drinking unpasteurised milk containing the tick virus, in several European countries. In some cases, it ended tragically.

The Norwegian Government has opened for the sale of unpasteurised milk and cream directly from the farmers to the consumers. Senior researcher, Åshild K. Andreassen, is critical to that. She believes that there is too much risk associated with such a legislative amendment.

“We do not yet know how sick one can become from unpasteurised milk containing the TBE virus. We should, however, limit the risk, ” she tells NRK.

The Ministry of Health and Care Services has asked the Norwegian Food Safety Authority to draft a regulation. According to the Authority, this concerns proposals for the direct sale of up to 5,000 litres of unpasteurised milk and cream annually.

“The proposal implies that you, as a consumer, should be able to choose whether you are willing to take the risk of consuming raw milk and cream, ” Senior Adviser in the Norwegian Food Safety Authority, Margrethe H. Røed comments.

Tick-borne encephalitis (TBE)

TBE is a viral infectious disease involving the central nervous system. The disease most often manifests as meningitis, encephalitis, or meningoencephalitis. Long-lasting or permanent neuropsychiatric consequences are observed in 10 to 20% of infected patients.

The number of reported cases has been increasing in most countries. TBE is posing as a concerning health challenge to Europe, as the number of reported human cases of TBE in all endemic regions of Europe have increased by almost 400% within the last three decades.

The tick-borne encephalitis virus is known to infect a range of hosts including ruminants, birds, rodents, carnivores, horses, and humans. The disease can also be spread from animals to humans, with ruminants and dogs providing the principal source of infection for humans.

TBE, like Lyme disease, is one of the many tick-borne diseases.

In dogs, the disease also manifests as a neurological disorder with signs varying from tremors to seizures and death.

In ruminants, neurological disease is also present, and animals may refuse to eat, appear lethargic, and also develop respiratory signs.

It is transmitted by the bite of several species of infected woodland ticks, including Ixodes scapularis, I. ricinus and I. persulcatus, or (rarely) through the non-pasteurised milk of infected cows.

(Source: Wikipedia)

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