New York resident develops bacterial infection after drinking raw milk from Pennsylvania farm: officials

A New York resident has developed a bacterial infection after drinking raw milk that likely came from a farm in Pennsylvania, the New York Department of Health announced this week.

The resident, who has not been identified, was infected with RB51 -- a strain of the Brucella abortus bacteria, according to New York health officials -- after he or she drank raw milk that officials believe came from the Miller's Biodiversity Farm in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. On its website, Miller's  says it's a “private food club” that  “allows its members access to buying food directly from farms and other vendors, bypassing the supermarket.”

The farm has been quarantined by the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture (PDA). This means it’s barred from selling any of its products made from raw cow’s milk while officials continue to investigate.

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That said, pasteurized dairy products from the farm “have been deemed safe,” the PDA said in a statement.

“Consumers who purchased unpasteurized cow’s milk or dairy products from Miller’s Biodiversity Farm in Lancaster County should immediately discard those products,” the PDA added.

Raw, unpasteurized milk can contain bacteria that can cause brucellosis, and a variety of other harmful diseases, such as listeriosis, salmonellosis, campylobacteriosis, typhoid fever and tuberculosis, according to the New York Department of Health. Milk is pasteurized -- heated to a certain temperature -- to kill any harmful bacteria.

Specifically, symptoms of brucellosis include fever, sweats, weight loss, fatigue,  joint pain and headache, among other signs.

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“Symptoms may appear up to six months after exposure. In severe cases, infections of the bones, joints, reproductive organs, central nervous system or lining of the heart may occur. The infection also can cause fetal loss in pregnant women,” the New York Department of Health explained.

The New Yorker infected with RB51 is “doing well” the health department said, noting he or she is the “third individual infected with RB51 due to raw milk consumption confirmed in the United States in the last two years.” The other two lived in Texas and New Jersey, respectively, and were diagnosed in 2017, the health department said.

"Raw milk products can contain harmful bacteria which can pose serious health risks. Pasteurization standards are in place to protect the public from diseases which are transmitted in raw milk and dairy products,” New York State Health Commissioner Howard Zucker said in a statement. “It is critical for New Yorkers to understand the dangers of these products and avoid their consumption."