busting the myth
It is said that raw goat milk is considered good for treating tropical fever but there is no scientific evidence to prove this, says Dr Sushila Kataria and lists its harmful effects
One of the many myths that have passed on for centuries is the magical properties of raw goat milk that can apparently not only boost immunity but also revitalise the human body. Even though there isn’t any scientific research to back this claim, raw goat milk is often in demand to treat tropical fever.
Unfortunately, little do its consumers realise that untreated goat milk can in fact cause bacterial infection, deadlier than that the fever it is believed to cure. If a person consumes raw, unprocessed goat’s milk, he is likely to develop a bacterial infection commonly found in animals called brucellosis. Breathlessness and repeated instances of fever over a span of a couple of months are symptoms of brucellosis. Other symptoms include joint and muscle pain, weight loss and fatigue. Some people might even experience stomach pain and cough.
A person suffering from these symptoms should immediately seek consultation from a doctor. The next step would be prescribed antibiotic therapy lasting over a few weeks to control this serious infection which, if left untreated, could turn fatal.
While fans of organic food laud health benefits of raw or unpasteurised milk, they severely downplay its potential risks. In reality, brucella bacteria found in the milk of infected animals including cattle, goat, camel and sheep can spread to human beings by consuming unpasteurised milk or its products like paneer and butter. These bacteria can also be transmitted by consuming raw or undercooked meat of infected animals. In fact, there are ice cream parlours that claim to make special ice cream using raw milk. However, these products should be completely avoided.
In addition to those consuming unpasteurised milk or its products, farmers, butchers and veterinary staff are also at high risk of brucellosis.
To avoid getting infected, specialists recommend the following measures.
- Avoiding direct contact with sick or dead animal bodies
- If one encounters direct contact, they should use hand gloves, boots and face and eye protection to avoid any direct or indirect contact with any bacteria
- Sick animals are advised to be treated by veterinary doctors at the earliest. Delay in treatment of their disease can worsen their health problem and put other animals and humans at risk
- Remembering to wear a mask while shearing animals
- Washing hands regularly when dealing with animals and avoid touching eyes, nose, and mouth
— The writer is Dr. Sushila Kataria, Director, Department of Internal Medicine and Geriatrics, Medanta-The Medicity
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