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Marler Blog Providing Commentary on Food Poisoning Outbreaks & Litigation

MA: Ooops, No Brucellosis in Human or Raw Milk

Food Safety News reports, a Massachusetts resident who first tested positive for brucellosis has now been confirmed to not have the infection, according to an email from the assistant commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR).

“While initial test results did show up positive, further, more specific and accurate testing by the CDC confirmed that the person does not have brucellosis,” Nathan L’Etoile wrote in the message forwarded by the NOFA/Massachusetts Raw Milk Network.

As a result, the MDAR “will be rescinding the Cease and Desist from the sale of Raw Milk” order that had been issued in the state last week, the email stated.

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH), in an email, also confirmed that “the patient did test negative for brucellosis. The milk and the cows also tested negative for any brucellosis bacteria. Neither DPH or DAR have any health concerns at this time.”

On Jan. 20, the MDAR and the DPH issued a consumer alert for raw milk from Twin Rivers Farm in Ashley Falls, MA “due to the possibility of raw milk being contaminated with Brucella.”

That earlier news release stated, in part: “This investigation is being conducted in response to a suspected human case, following an individual’s contact with this farm. The presence of Brucella in raw milk represents a significant danger to public health.”

In his email Thursday, L’Etoile wrote, “All in all this has been a trying experience, but the cooperation and willingness to take the steps needed by MDAR, DPH, USDA and most importantly the farmer has helped immensely.”

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  • minkpuppy

    I would still like to know what organism was causing the farmer’s symptoms. I would speculate it was a close cousin of Brucella abortus. Most likely a generic test for brucella bacteria was used and then the sample was sent to CDC for more specific testing and verification. The local health authorities acted with an overabundance of caution until the results were verified and if it had been B. Abortus, they would have prevented more illnesses.

    It’s not likely his herd contained brucellosis if he vaccinated regularly but he could possibly contract it if he accidentally stuck himself with a vaccination needle. I’ve heard stories of this happening but I couldn’t say if they’re actually true or not.

  • Amy Harris

    To Minkpuppy:
    The Brucella vaccine is administered only by accredited veterinarians and therefore it is extremely unlikely that this farmer “stuck himself with a needle”.