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Did raw milk make politicians in West Virginia get sick?

Did raw milk make politicians in West Virginia get sick?

Yawn, this old misinformation. You might have recognized the featured image, it’s making the rounds on various social media platforms again.

Every once in a while an image circulates of a man in a suit sans jacket, laying on a couch in agony. The caption usually reads something like “West Virginia politician falls ill due to drinking unpasteurized milk after helping pass a law that legalized raw milk.”

Official misinformation

On May 15, 2024, this bunk history was re-posted by an “American public health scientist who is currently an epidemiologist and Chief of COVID Task Force at the New England Complex Systems Institute” per Wikipedia.

His caption starts: “Dear Raw Milk drinkers– behold your future:”

If there’s any quality I do not want in a doctor, it’s schadenfreude. When you hear a frightful citizen say “trust the experts” this is a literal example of who they’re talking about. This guy is the Chief of COVID Task Force at the NECSI, and he’s spreading known misinformation on the platform currently known as X.

No doubt his followers have continued the spread of this misinformation, or disinformation. He’s clearly biased, so it’s possible this was an intentional distribution of false information due to a lack of reason in his favor.

Fact checked by Snopes

April 5, 2017 via Snopes: Did Lawmakers Who Legalized Raw Milk Get Sick from Drinking Raw Milk to Celebrate? (archive)

Key passage:

What the investigators did manage to determine, the Gazette-Mail said, was that out of six delegates who reported symptoms such as diarrhea, fever, and nausea, only three said they had drunk the raw milk, raising serious doubts about the milk being the cause of the illness.

The bout of illness was shared among individuals who did not consume the raw milk. No bug was ever identified, or linked to the raw milk. Influenza appears to have caused their tummy aches.

Infectious memes

This situation perfectly displays the eagerness to assume that raw milk has caused illness without evidence. It’s not unlikely that other real threats go un-investigated because of this bias.

Misinformation, and disinformation, is flooding the Internet. We’ve all mostly likely fallen for some fake news, big or small, at some point in time. If you think you’re immune, you’re probably chugging it on the regular.

They can circle the wagons, scream and shout about conspiracy theories, etc all they want. We don’t need a degree in the sciences to point out glaring faults in basic logic. Nor are we obliged to believe someone when they’ve been caught in a lie, especially when the lie might be used to justify public dollars being routed toward the job that fills their pockets.

Are we going to die?

Doubtful, though it seems our pain is something these characters want and rub their hands for expectantly.

In recent legislative hearings, numbers were brought by opponents to the legalization to raw milk. Ag Commissioner Mike Strain of Louisiana stated that 3.2% of the US population consumes raw milk – greater than 10 million people. He went on to state that 761 get sick per year, with 22 cases requiring hospitalization (for any period of time), and no deaths. That’s a 0.007% risk of getting something as mild as a stomach ache, and a 0.0002% risk of greater severity. If you are healthy and consuming raw milk from a clean source, the personal risk is assumably far lower.

The risks associated with raw milk consumption are hardly to be considered “Darwin Award” material. Despite what this medical busking might have you believe – we live on.

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