According to the Milford Daily News, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) issued a warning today warning consumers not to drink any milk products from Whittier Farms in Shrewsbury because of listeria bacteria contamination, which has contributed to the death of two people. Four cases of listeriosis infection have been identified by DPH, according to a statement released by the state department late this afternoon. The cases occurred in June, October and two in November. The four cases involved three elderly residents and a pregnant woman from Worcester County. Two of the people have died. They have not been identified. DNA fingerprinting conducted by the State Laboratory Institute showed that the bacteria causing these infections came from a common source. Samples collected showed product contamination.
According the its website:
Whittier Farms is located in the historic and picturesque town of Sutton, Massachusetts. The farm is presently owned and operated by the fourth and fifth generation of the Whittier Family. The farm consists of two locations, which oversee each other from the tops of two hills with rolling fields nestled between them, depicting a true New England countryside.
Listeria monocytogenes (Listeria) is a foodborne disease-causing bacteria; the disease is called listeriosis. Listeria can invade the body through a normal and intact gastrointestinal tract. Once in the body, Listeria can travel through the blood stream but the bacteria are often found inside cells. Listeria also produces toxins that damage cells. Listeria invades and grows best in the central nervous system among immune compromised persons, causing meningitis and/or encephalitis (brain infection). In pregnant women, the fetus can become infected, leading to spontaneous abortion, stillbirths, or sepsis (blood infection) in infancy.