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Camel milk: medicine or disease?

Health professionals warn about the dangers of drinking camel milk, suggesting people should not drink it from the streets after the recent spread of infectious diseases.

The absence of camel milk quality control can cause serious health problems. Raw milk is not “pasteurized” and, in case of contamination, necessary health recovery treatments may last for months.

Serious complications may end up in death

It is rumoured that raw, untreated, and unpasteurized milk differs in taste, and not treating milk thermally contributes to retaining all the nutrients in milk. It is said it is more beneficial to the immune system than pasteurized milk, however, none of this has been scientifically proved.

On the contrary, it is scientifically known that drinking raw, untreated milk is one of the methods of transmission of many animal-source pathogens to humans. Diseases transmitted by raw milk are many. Among the most known bacterial diseases that are transmitted from animals to humans through raw milk are the ones responsible for tuberculosis, brucellosis, and intestinal fever (typhoid fever). Likewise, the intestinal pathogen strains of Escherichia coli, responsible for diarrhoea, can progress to a pathological syndrome that may cause death.

Even if not death, all of the diseases mentioned above might result in serious complications and be contagious.

Mastitis is also another disease candidate as the bacterial numbers are very high in untreated milk. The bacteria that grow in the drink enables secretes a toxin that causes diarrhoea.

In general, drinking milk in general without knowing its source, especially unpasteurized milk, leads to the so-called brucellosis. It is caused by bacteria transmitted from infected animals to humans by eating their meat or drinking their milk. The symptoms usually are muscle, bones and joints pain, lethargy, fever, headache followed by loss of appetite, and others.

When does milk get contaminated?

One of the annoying infections of unpasteurized camel milk, as the specialist says, is diarrhoea or vomiting caused by bacterial food poisoning. These bacteria do not cause animal diseases or are present in animals; they rather reach the milk from the soil during the milking or transport processes when quality control is absent.

Another problem that may appear in raw milk is that its shelf life ranges from three to five days even if it is kept at 3°C. Therefore, the following question comes to mind: what guarantees safety in the process of transporting and storing milk? What guarantees that the milk has not been stored in the refrigerator at 3°C for more than four days? Even if we assume it has been treated thermally, how can consumers know it is not contaminated during transport and storage operations due to poor quality control?

Drinking or not to drink, that’s the question

Unfortunately, the KSA also is exposed to the problems this matter raise. One of the reasons for diseases spread is the sale of camel milk on the roads in a number of cities and governorates across the country. This happens for several reasons, including the absence of a valid health examination to the service provider. 

But then, what shall people do? World Health organization’s official website says camel milk is a nutritious product, but advert that it should be pasteurized, cooked and pass through other heat treatments, for the sake of milk-lovers.  Therefore, thankfully, it is at least clear the drink is not the problem. If you want to buy it, it is ok. But always check the sources.

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