April 17, 2024

CDC Says People in Four States May be Drinking Milk Contaminated with Brucella RB51

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is warning raw milk consumers in four states that they may be drinking products contaminated with Brucella RB51 bacteria. Officials are telling these people to visit their doctor and ask for antibiotics to prevent illness. Several other states have issued this same warning in the past few weeks.

Brucella RB51

The statement reads, “People who bought and drank raw milk from a company called Udder Milk may have been infected with a rare but potentially serious germ called Brucella abortus RB51. While Brucella can cause anyone to become sick, women may suffer miscarriage and other pregnancy complications making it critical for pregnant women who may have consumed the raw milk from Udder Milk to seek medical care immediately.”

The CDC has known about this problem since September 2017 when a woman in New Jersey got sick after drinking raw milk from Udder Milk. That company has not given officials information about the farms that supply their milk, so the government hasn’t been able to trace the source of the infection. The states where officials think the milk has been sold are New Jersey, Rhode Island, New York, and Connecticut. Officials in New York, New Jersey, and Rhode Island have issued this warning.

So until more information is available about this raw milk, or until officials can test milk from the suspect farms, public health offices are recommend that anyone who drank raw milk or ate raw milk products from Udder Milk in the past six months visit their doctor for prophylaxis antibiotic treatment for Brucella RB51 infection.

Dr. William Bower, team lead of the CDC group that investigates brucellosis said, “Because health officialsĀ  have no direct way to let people know they may have drunk contaminated milk, everyone who consumed milk from Udder Milk in the past 6 months should receive antibiotics now to avoid having long-term health effects from the bacteria.” It can take up to six months for the symptoms of this serious illness to appear.

Health officials not only don’t know the locations of the farms supply Udder Milk, but they don’t know where the company sells and distributes raw milk and other foods. The press release states, “Online information about Udder Milk points to members-only websites through which people purchase raw milk online and delivery sites that shift to avoid detection by public health officials.”

This Brucella RB51 strain is resistant to some antibiotics, so anyone who drank raw milk from Udder Milk should tell their doctor that they have been exposed to this strain. And those persons should check themselves and their children, if they were given these products, every day for a fever for one month after they last drank the milk, and watch for brucellosis symptoms for six months.

Symptoms of brucellosis include muscle pain, lasting fatigue, arthritis, depression, and swelling of the testicles. Untreated brucellosis can lead to arthritis, heart problems, enlargement of the spleen or liver, and, in some cases, meningitis. This bacteria can cause severe illness in those with weakened immune systems, and miscarriages in pregnant women.

Human brucellosis case have decreased from about 3,000 per year in the 1950s to 100 in recent years. Most of these cases are in people who travel to countries where Brucella is more common.

You can read more about raw milk and the severe health risks that can come from drinking it at the CDC web site. The CDC has conducted studies that show an increase in the number of raw milk-associated outbreaks as more states have begun legalizing the sale of unpasteurized milk.

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