June 15, 2024

Brucella Outbreak From K-Bar Dairy Raw Milk Prompts CDC Warning in Seven States

A health warning for Brucella in Texas’ K-Bar Dairy raw milk has been issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Texas Department of State Health. Public health officials are investigating brucellosis illnesses in as many as seven states.

Milk splashes

It is illegal to sell unpasteurized, or raw, milk, across state lines. The milk in question came from K-Bar dairy in Paradise, Texas. Weeks ago, Food Poisoning Bulletin told you about a Brucella outbreak in that state linked to raw milk that hospitalized one woman. Isolates from that patient match antibiotic-resistant Brucella bacteria in samples taken from the dairy’s raw milk. The bacteria is called Brucella RB51, which is rare but causes serious illness.

Officials are warning that anyone who consumed raw milk or raw milk products from K-Bar Dairy between June 1 and August 7 2017, should immediately contact their doctors and get antibiotic treatments. Brucella infections an cause lifelong chronic conditions such as arthritis, heart problems, enlargement of the liver or spleen, and nervous system problems.  Pregnant women can suffer miscarriages, and people with weakened immune systems can become seriously ill if they contract this infection.

Dr. William Bower, team lead for the CDC group that investigates brucellosis said, “It’s very important for people who drank raw milk from this dairy to seek treatment to prevent infection with Brucella RB51. Even if people don’t have any symptoms now, they can develop a chronic infection that can impact their health for years to come.”

Purchase records from the dairy show that people in Texas and others as far away as California and North Dakota have bought products from them. CDC and Texas officials are trying to reach people in more than 800 households known to have purchased K-Bar raw milk. Texas is contacting 170 households; the CDC is trying to contact the remaining 672 households but many didn’t provide contact information.

Government health officials are worried that people who have these products in their home are not aware of this serious health risk. The CDC and Texas Department of State Health Services say that they have received reports about people who drank K-Bar milk or have symptoms consistent with brucellosis caused by RB51 in Alabama, Arkansas, California, Ohio, North Dakota, Tennessee and Texas.

If you did consume some of these products, tell your doctor that you may have been exposed to RB51. A link on the CDC website will give your doctor information about testing patients for RB51 and reducing the risk of serious complications. The symptoms of brucellosis include, but are not limited to, muscle pain, lasting fatigue, fever, arthritis, depression, and swelling of the testicles.

RB51 is a weakened strain of Brucella that is used to vaccinate young female cattle against infection with more serious strains of that bacteria. But in some rare cases vaccinated cows can shed the bacteria in their milk. Tests on milk from that dairy revealed two cows were infected with Brucella RB51. The only way to get rid of this bacteria is to pasteurize the milk.

The CDC bulletin ends with this statement, “Raw milk and raw milk products are those that have not undergone a process called pasteurization that kills disease-causing germs. CDC recommends that people only drink milk that has been pasteurized to kill germs. Even healthy animals may carry germs that can contaminate milk. There is no substitute for pasteurization to assure that milk is safe to drink.

The risk of getting sick from drinking raw milk is greater for infants and young children, the elderly, pregnant women, and people with weakened immune systems, such as people with cancer, an organ transplant, or HIV/AIDS. However, healthy people of any age can get very sick if they drink raw milk contaminated with harmful germs.”

Pritzker Hageman, America’s food safety law firm, successfully helps and represents people hurt by adulterated foods in outbreaks throughout the United States. Its lawyers have won hundreds of millions of dollars for foodborne illness patients and their families, including the largest verdict in American history for a person harmed by E. coli and hemolytic uremic syndrome. The firm also publishes Food Poisoning Bulletin, a respected Google News source for food safety news and information. Pritzker Hageman lawyers are often interviewed as experts on the topic by major news outlets including the New York Times, CNN, and the Wall Street Journal. In addition, the firm represents people harmed by pathogenic microorganisms in Legionnaires‘ disease, surgical site infections, and product liability cases.


  1. Jackie Schmidts says

    Raw milk should not be allowed to be sold to the general public. Nor for that matter raw cheese or other dairy products which have not been pasteurized first. People can become very sick or worse die from eating raw dairy products. Legitimate dairy farmers are being hurt by this kind of negative publicity. One company in NY State, Vulto Cheese had a recall of their raw cheeses which actually killed 2 people and made many others very sick. Stop the sale of raw milk and dairy products to the general public!

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