The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising consumers that the company Udder Milk has been ordered to cease and desist its illegal sales of unpasteurized, raw milk following confirmation that a New Jersey woman who drank the company’s milk was infected with antibiotic-resistant brucellosis.
Consumers would place orders online, and then meet drivers at specific delivery locations, including locations in Rhode Island. Udder Milk was also known as the Co-op on Wheels.
It is illegal to transport raw milk across state lines and sell raw milk. Unpasteurized milk may contain dangerous bacteria. Anyone who has become ill after consuming raw milk products should immediately consult a medical professional. Pasteurized milk and dairy products bought commercially are considered safe for consumption because they are heated to a high temperature that kills harmful bacteria.
Multiple state health department are working with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to find out where Udder Milk is getting its raw milk. Udder Milk’s website identified delivery locations in several states, including Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, and Rhode Island.
The woman from New Jersey tested positive for Brucella RB51 infection. She has since recovered. Brucella bacteria are primarily passed among infected animals. People can become infected by eating or drinking contaminated raw milk products.
A Brucellosis infection can cause a range of symptoms including fever, sweats, chills, weight loss, headache, fatigue, and muscle and joint pain. Symptoms may appear up to six months after exposure. Some symptoms may persist for prolonged periods of time or reoccur. These include recurrent fevers; arthritis; swelling of the testicle and scrotum area, heart and/or spleen; depression; neurological symptoms; and chronic fatigue. Brucella RB51 cannot be diagnosed through tests commonly used to diagnose the disease, and this strain is resistant to one of the antibiotics commonly used to treat brucellosis in people.
From 1993 through 2012, there were 127 outbreaks linked to raw milk that were reported to the CDC, resulting in 1,909 illnesses and 144 hospitalizations. All suspected and confirmed cases of brucellosis in Rhode Island are immediately reportable to RIDOH. There have been no cases of Brucellosis in Rhode Island in the last five years.
Additional information on Brucellosis is available online.