State: Don’t consume raw milk from farm in Lancaster County, Pa.

Human brucellosis infection linked to raw dairy from Miller’s Biodiversity Farm in PA

Department of Health issues advisory to raise awareness with healthcare providers

The state Departments of Health and Agriculture and Markets today warned residents about potential dangers of consuming raw (unpasteurized) milk and other dairy products. A New York state resident was recently diagnosed with a RB51 infection, which is a strain of the Brucella abortus bacteria.

The investigation identified raw milk or other dairy products from Miller’s Biodiversity Farm in Lancaster County, Pa., as the likely source of the infection. Individuals who consumed raw dairy products from the farm should immediately discard the products and contact their healthcare provider to discuss preventive treatment.

Pet owners with concerns about exposure should talk to their veterinarians.  

“Raw milk products can contain harmful bacteria which can pose serious health risks,” state Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker said. “Pasteurization standards are in place to protect the public from diseases that are transmitted in raw milk and dairy products. It is critical for New Yorkers to understand the dangers of these products and avoid their consumption.”

“We are working with our counterparts in the New York State Department of Health, as well as authorities in Pennsylvania, to investigate this illness, which resulted from the purchase and consumption of raw cow’s milk,”
State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball said. “We want to remind New York consumers about the potential danger of buying raw milk from this company and others like it.”

DOH’s Wadsworth Center Laboratory, in conjunction with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, confirmed the infection. The individual is being treated and is doing well. This is the third individual infected with RB51 due to raw milk consumption confirmed in the United States in the last two years. The other two individuals, who were both diagnosed in 2017, resided in Texas and New Jersey. 

After state officials notified the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture of the likely source, PDA issued an order of quarantine to stop the sale of dairy products made from raw cow’s milk from the farm while the investigation continues.

Raw milk does not provide the benefits of pasteurization, which heats milk to a certain temperature for a set period of time to kill harmful bacteria that can cause diseases such as listeriosis, salmonellosis, campylobacteriosis, typhoid fever, tuberculosis and brucellosis. New York prohibits the purchase of raw milk except on the farms where the milk is produced and subjects in-state sellers to monthly inspections and testing.

Eating or drinking Brucella-contaminated raw milk and other dairy products can cause human infection. Brucellosis can cause a range of symptoms including fever, sweats, chills, weight loss, headache, fatigue and muscle and joint pain. Symptoms may appear up to six months after exposure. In severe cases, infections of the bones, joints, reproductive organs, central nervous system or lining of the heart may occur. The infection also can cause fetal loss in pregnant women.

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