CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) — In the weeks after passing a bill allowing West Virginians to drink raw milk, one delegate brought the drink in to celebrate and eventually several lawmakers have gotten sick.
Some lawmakers say it’s just a coincidence and a stomach bug is going around, but state health officials are planning on looking in to how this all started.
Several lawmakers say a delegate who sponsored the bill, Scott Cadle, brought in the milk.
“Cadle caught me in the hallway, offered a cup to me, and you want to try to be a gentleman,” Delegate Pat McGeehan said. “I had a small sip and walked away and tossed the rest of it.”
The timing is coincidental.
McGeehan and some other lawmakers drank raw, unpasteurized, milk to celebrate the passing of a bill that makes it legal before getting sick.
According to the Kanwaha-Charleston Health Department, raw milk can contain dangerous bacteria and parasites. But, supporters say, raw milk has a higher nutritional content and is more ethical.
Still, McGeehan believes his falling ill afterward was a coincidence. He says the recent stomach bug has been making the rounds for weeks.
“There’s definitely…some other colleagues that have similar symptoms that I’ve been experiencing,” McGeehan said. “I don’t think it’s any riskier than eating raw oysters or anything like that.”
McGeehan believes the milk you drink is a personal choice.
“There definitely shouldn’t be a law against allowing people to do what they want within the framework of the rule of law,” McGeehan said. “Just be careful.”
Governor Earl Ray Tomblin vetoed a similar bill last year. His spokesperson says he signed this year’s version of the bill because it has precautions in place to better protect people’s health.
A spokesperson for Governor Tomblin says, as for this incident, it’s up to the Department of Health and Human Resources to determine what did or did not happen.