On March 18, 2016, the CDC announced that they have linked raw milk from Miller’s Organic Farm to an outbreak of Listeria monocytogenes that occurred in 2014. There were 2 people sickened in this outbreak, 1 in Florida and 1 in California. Both people required hospitalization, and the person sickened in Florida died as a result of their Listeria poisoning. There was no recall because of the outbreak. Although the illnesses occurred in 2014, Miller’s Organic Farm was not linked to the outbreak until late January 2016.
The process of linking Miller’s Organic Farm to the outbreak began in November 2015. Samples taken from chocolate milk at a raw milk convention tested positive for Listeria monocytogenes. The FDA then ran a DNA test in order to gain more information about the strain of Listeria. This test revealed that the DNA found in the isolated Listeria bacteria was closely related to Listeria found in the 2014 outbreak. The FDA notified the CDC about the match on January 29, 2016. Interviews conducted by the CDC confirmed the association of raw milk to the outbreak.
The Miller’s Organic Farm outbreak becomes the latest addition to a string of E. coli and Listeria outbreaks associated with raw milk. Raw milk has also been linked recently to an outbreak of E. coli that has sickened 10 people in California. Raw milk has not gone through the process of pasteurization, which destroys any bacteria present in the milk. Without this process, raw milk has a higher risk of causing a variety of bacterial infections, including Salmonella, E. coli, Listeria, and Campylobacter.
Listeria monocytogenes infections can be very serious. After infection, the bacteria may lay dormant for up to two months before symptoms appear. Usually, a Listeria infection will produce symptoms including stiff neck, diarrhea, fever, nausea, headache, and muscle aches. Children, pregnant women, the elderly, those with HIV/AIDS, and those with suppressed immune systems are at an increased risk of contracting a Listeria infection. If you or a loved one begins to show the symptoms of LIsteria poisoning, contact a medical professional.