Raw milk from a Pennsylvania farm may have exposed people from 19 states to drug-resistant brucella, according to a recent alert from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Health officials noted that there has only been one confirmed case of brucellosis in New York, diagnosed in November 2018. However, an “unknown number” of people may have been exposed.
Is it safe to consume raw milk?
Some people think raw milk is the more “natural” option, failing to realize that it is unsafe. Raw milk does not go through the process of pasteurization which is needed to kill dangerous organisms.
This makes it unfit for consumption as it could lead to a number of diseases caused by organisms like salmonella, e.coli, Listeria monocytogenes, Staphylococcus aureus, and brucella.
What is brucella?
Brucella is a bacteria which can lead to an infection known as brucellosis. It can be transmitted to humans via contact with infected animals or animal products contaminated with the bacteria.
“Most cases of brucellosis associated with raw milk are caused by a strain called Brucella melitensis or Brucella abortus in people who traveled to countries where these strains are common and drank contaminated cow, sheep or goat milk,” the CDC website explains.
What do we know about the exposure?
Samples of milk from Miller’s Biodiversity Farm in Quarryville, Pennsylvania, have tested positive for RB51, a strain of brucella which is resistant to certain antibiotics that are used to treat infections. Consumers have been instructed to discard any leftover or stored raw milk products sourced from this dairy farm.
People from 19 states have bought or consumed raw milk products that came from the farm, including Alabama, California, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, and Virginia.
Who is at risk right now?
“People who consumed raw milk or raw milk products from this dairy farm since January 2016 may have been exposed and should talk to their doctor,” the CDC alert stated.
People who have consumed milk from this farm over the past six months face the biggest risk. They are advised to see a doctor who may decide to prescribe antibiotics and have them monitored for symptoms.
What are the symptoms of brucellosis?
The timing of symptoms can vary wildly, emerging anywhere between from five days to six months after exposure. Early signs tend to overlap with flu-like symptoms such as headaches, fever, fatigue, muscle and joint pain, etc.
If left untreated, brucellosis might lead to serious complications that affect the heart, the nervous system, the liver, and more. Pregnant women who were infected are at higher risk of miscarriage.