Dangerous Milk

In her short story "The Enduring Chill," Flannery O'Connor described the symptoms of a character who unwisely drank unpasteurized milk: "Alone in his freezing flat, huddled under his two blankets and his overcoat and with three thicknesses of the New York Times between, he had had a chill one night, followed by a violent sweat that left the sheets soaking and removed all doubt from his mind about his true condition. Before this there had been a gradual slackening of his energy and vague inconsistent aches and headaches."

Many animals, from rabbits to dogs, can spread the Brucella bacterium to people, but the main route of transmission is through the milk of cattle and goats. Worldwide, about half a million people a year get the resulting disease, which is called brucellosis or undulant fever. Napoleon suffered from it. He was supposedly in the clutches of its fever at Waterloo.

Speaking of Napoleon, the movie Napoleon Dynamite provides another case. We see Napoleon's friend Pedro triumphing at the livestock judging competition, during which he correctly diagnoses the impurities in milk by taste. Watch the movie and see how Pedro looks after that.



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