DALLAS - At least four people, three of which were children, become seriously ill after drinking raw milk, according to state health officials.
"They said it would be a while before I got my strength back," said Mary Chiles, a 57-year-old resident of Dallas.
Chiles is still weak after surviving a life-threatening salmonella infection. The bacteria, investigators said, came from a small glass of raw milk she drank nearly two months ago.
"It went directly to my blood," she said. "I didn't have vomiting or diarrhea, just a fever."
Her fever reached 105 degrees.
"Everybody was just afraid," Chiles said. "It was just unbelievable."
Chiles said she tried the milk after a health-conscious friend told her the all-natural, unpasteurized beverage might improve her health.
Pasteurization is a heating process that kills bacteria in dairy products. Some consider unpasteurized dairy products more natural and healthy.
State investigators have now blocked Lavon Farms in Plano, where Chiles purchased her carton, from selling raw milk until tests are complete.
Owner Todd Moore told News 8 the farm sold thousands of gallons of raw milk and never received complaints of any illness. But, the type of raw milk linked to the salmonella cases could soon become easier to buy.
State lawmakers Wednesday held a hearing on legislation to ease restrictions on unpasteurized milk. The bill is labeled House Bill 75. HB 75 would expand where raw milk could be sold, meaning it could start showing up at farmers markets.
But, based on the four North Texas cases that are not all connected to the same Dairy Farm, the Texas Medical Association and the Dallas County Health Department are issuing alerts about the potential dangers of unpasteurized products.
"We're going to go with the CDC recommendations that individuals not partake of this milk," said Zachary Thompson, the director of the Dallas County Health Department.
Chiles spent six days in the hospital fighting the infection and another nine in a nursing home recovering.
"It's not worth it taking the chance," said Chiles, whose health is now worse since contracting the salmonella infection. "It's like Russian roulette to me."
She said she will never drink raw milk again.