Public health types have better things to do; E. coli O157, brucellosis in raw milk

 On-going outbreaks and recalls in Washington State, the same E. coli O157:H7 scattered throughout a California dairy that sickened five children, and now a man who drank raw milk produced at a Western Massachusetts dairy farm is suspected of being infected with brucellosis, raising concerns about the emergence of a germ that has not been seen in New England livestock in at least two decades.

Brucellosis is an infectious disease passed primarily between animals, but it can be acquired by humans through the consumption of raw milk.

Officials from the state Department of Public Health said they are investigating Twin Rivers Farm in Ashley Falls as the possible source of the infection, because the infected man purchased raw milk there. The dairy sells raw milk only at the facility, not in retail stores, and officials urged anyone who bought raw milk there to discard it.

The owners of Twin Rivers Farm could not be reached for comment.

Dr. Alfred DeMaria, the state’s top disease tracker, said the man has believed to have consumed the milk in late December. But because the illness often starts with flu-like symptoms, it was difficult to pinpoint at first, adding, “It’s an astute physician that worked it out.”

A table of raw-milk related outbreaks is available at http://bites.ksu.edu/rawmilk.