More customers receiving rabies treatment over Rogers County milk purchases

Wednesday, December 28th 2005, 10:00 am
By: News On 6

There are still concerns over rabies in raw, unpasteurized milk, sold earlier this month at Claremore's Swan Brothers Dairy. Tests are under way to determine whether rabies was in the milk.

News on 6 reporter Emory Bryan says Harley Swan Jr. has sold milk from the family dairy since the 1950's. "Yes it tastes different, it tastes better." Swan's sells only raw milk at the dairy near Claremore at 2688 North state Highway 88. It's the only place in the state that sells milk before it is pasteurized - in part because the state doesn't allow raw milk to be sold anywhere other than a diary. "It has all the natural vitamins and minerals and enzymes in it." But it can also contain viruses that pasteurization would eliminate.

That wasn't a problem until one of the Swan's cows got rabies. The milk from that cow was sold at the dairy from December 4th through the 19th. Mary Beth Murray with the Rogers County Health Department: "It's never been documented to have caused rabies, however we wanted to take the precaution, because they don't know."

The Rogers County Health Department has heard from 110 people who drank the milk. 80 of them have started the vaccinations - a series of 6 shots in the arm over 28 days. One of the selling points of Swan's milk is that it's produced without hormones and any cow on antibiotics is separated from the rest of the herd. But because of this one cow's infection, the Swan's decided to vaccinate the entire herd for rabies. "We'll continue, and that's been my goal, make the best milk at a reasonable cost for people."

The health department says no consumers have reported problems, but vaccinations are available for anyone who believes they might be at risk. The shots are free to the public, but they cost $5,000 per person. The state is paying for them now, but plans to bill the dairy for the expense.