Residents of New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Rhode Island, who consumed raw milk and milk products from Udder Milk, a New York-based company, in the last six months, have been urged by the Centers for Prevention and Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to contact their doctors.

The warning was issued by the CDC on Nov. 21, after a woman from New Jersey was found infected in September by Brucella abortus RB51, a rare and life-threatening bacterium. She contracted it after consuming unpasteurized milk from Udder Milk. 

Brucella abortus is known to cause Bovine Brucellosis, one of the primary causes of abortions in cattle. However, according to the Center for Food Control and Public Health, the bacterium is also “a human pathogen. In humans, brucellosis can be a serious, debilitating and sometimes chronic disease that may affect a variety of organs. Most cases are the result of occupational exposure to infected animals, but infections can also occur from ingesting contaminated dairy products.”

This is why immediate medical care was advised for pregnant women who have consumed raw milk from Udder Milk during the last few months. The illnesses that can be caused after drinking the tainted milk include miscarriages and other pregnancy complications.

Milk The warning was issued by the CDC after a woman from New Jersey was found infected in September with Brucella abortus RB51, a rare and life-threatening bacterium. She contracted the disease after consuming unpasteurized milk from Udder Milk. Photo: Getty Images/ Tim Boyle

The people who have consumed raw Udder Milk products should start a course of antibiotics and monitor themselves for signs of fever, muscle pain, lasting fatigue, arthritis, depression, and swelling of the testicles, for at least a month since they consumed the tainted dairy products.

If Brucella RB51 goes untreated, the infection from the bacteria can result in chronic health problems like arthritis, heart problems, enlargement of the spleen or liver, and, in rare cases, nervous system-related diseases like meningitis. People with weakened immune systems are more susceptible to it. 

Since Udder Milk has withheld information about the farms it obtains its milk from, the United States Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration are still working with state health and agriculture officials to trace the source of the contaminated raw milk and raw milk products.

“Because health officials  have no direct way to let people know they may have drunk contaminated milk, everyone who consumed milk from Udder Milk in the past 6 months should receive antibiotics now to avoid having long-term health effects from the bacteria,” William Bower, M.D., team lead for the CDC group that investigates brucellosis, said.

Human brucellosis is not the common in the U.S. anymore. While about 3,000 cases were seen per year in the 1950s, the number has dropped to 100-150 in the present times. Most people in the U.S. who contract the bacteria do so by drinking contaminated milk or coming in contact with infected animals after travelling to countries where brucellosis is fairly common.

According to CDC, the only way to avoid getting infected by Brucella abortus is to drink pasteurized milk because this process kills RB51, other types of Brucella, and a variety of other disease-causing bacteria.