Can Orf virus be transmitted via milk?

Asked July 18, 2013, 12:32 PM EDT

My 65-yr old sister and I deal with multiple auto-immune conditions. My sister has been drinking fresh goat milk which has benefitted her acid reflux and asthma significantly. Recently the herd of her supplier was afflicted with "Sore Mouth". Since then my sister has been pasteurizing the milk. But 4 days ago, during the pasteurization process, she absentmindedly rubbed a milky finger across her bottom lip. Now the lip is covered with blisters. Could this be the orf virus? How can we know for sure? (She has had absolutely no contact with the goats themselves.) All I have read (CDC and others) indicates this is not likely, but the circumstances, incubation period and appearance are right. EEEK! If this is Orf...and if it was transmitted through the milk, we wonder if it could then be transmitted from my sister to me. Again...the existing literature says "no", but we can't help but wonder. Thanks for your help in this!

San Patricio County Texas

1 Response

Orf can be transmitted via the handling of the goats and any inanimate object that may have touched a goat with active sores. Sores can be on any mucous membrane of a goat including their udders where the milk is supplied. Therefore it may have been transmitted to the bottle containing the milk. Not necessary the milk, but the handling of bottles with unwashed hands from infected goats could transmit the virus to a person.

The incubation period and the case that your farm supplier is currently treating their goats for Orf is a real measure that there is possibly an Orf infection occurring in your sister with the auto-immune condition. Please seek medical attention to treat the blisters and prevent any secondary infections. Also, I would advise to avoid getting milk from this goat farm until there is no longer an infection in their goats. Or find another goat milk supplier whose practices better hygiene in the preparation of their goat milk to their customers.

Thank you.

JP