The Massachusetts Department of Public Health and Massachusetts Department of Agriculture issued a consumer alert on Friday, saying it is investigating whether a local farm’s raw milk could be contaminated with Brucella.

A man who had “contact with this farm” has a suspected case of brucellosis, the state agencies said in a news release. Test results are pending.

Brucellosis is a bacterial infection passed primarily from animal to animal and in humans typically caused by ingestion of unpasteurized milk or meat from animals infected with Brucella. Massachusetts public health authorities say they haven’t seen Brucella in livestock there in decades.

Twin Rivers Farm in Ashley Falls is being investigated as the possible source of infection, and the dairy’s raw milk sales have been suspended. The dairy sells raw milk only at the farm, not in retail stores. “The presence of Brucella in raw milk represents a significant danger to public health,” the state agencies stated.

The advisory does not extend to pasteurized milk from Twin Rivers Farm.

According to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, brucellosis can cause flu-like symptoms including sweats, headache, fever, swollen lymph nodes, and back pains. In some cases, the infection can cause long-lasting and chronic symptoms. Adults are more likely to fall seriously ill than children.

“MDPH and DAR are advising consumers who have purchased raw milk from this Farm to discard it,” the news release states. “Persons who believe they have become ill from drinking raw milk should seek immediate medical attention and should then notify their local board of health or the MDPH Food Protection Program at 617-983-6712.”

  • I hope to see more follow-up on this story. I am especially interested to know if it turns out to be Brucella abortus and where it originated. The USDA and many states have taken the attitude that brucellosis has been eradicated. Vaccination is no longer required or even encouraged in many places. My concern is that we have become complacent too soon in regard to brucellosis, especially since we are aware of wildlife reservoirs in the Greater Yellowstone Area, and movement of cattle across the US is not uncommon.

  • MrsKK

    It will be interesting to see if they post the results of the test. The article says it “could be” brucellosis and it is a preliminary diagnosis, and that the farm is “being investigated as a possible source of infection”. This is truly alarmist and is irresponsible reporting. There are few facts cited in this article.

  • David Walkker

    If people want to drink raw milk – that should be their decision. What ticks me off is that this person is probably using either health insurance coverage or government-mandated ER care to get healthcare – both of which cost people like me in insurance premiums or taxes. People who are smart enough to avoid this predictable problem of ingesting unpasteurized dairy products should not have to subsidize those still living in the early 1800s.

  • SueM

    Kudos to Food Safety News for letting this article see the light of day. Living in the Greater Yellowstone area where brucellosis is a very real problem in bison and elk, it alarms me that not one time, not ever, have I seen the news media or government connect the dots between a very real people disease, undulant fever, and brucellosis. Why is that?

  • Margaret

    This is unfair reporting. “A man who drank raw milk from the dairy in late December” happens to be the owner of the said dairy. It is inconclusive at this point how he contracted brucellosis. While it is prudent to stop any distribution until they can determine the cause it is irresponsible to leap to conclusions that the source is the raw milk that he and his family consume. In an interview in a local paper, the owner said the herd had been inoculated against Brucella for many years. Warning the public is very different from leading people to false conclusions without investigation.

  • Matt

    This website is run by a firm that specializes in representing people who have possibly contracted food borne illnesses. Of course the facts are going to be few and the speculation against raw milk will be great. If it was just the farmer that contracted this and no one else has then it is strange to jump straight to raw milk and not other causes that are specific to the farmer.