Delaware Health and Social Services issued a press release yesterday regarding one case each of Listeriosis and Brucellossis with links to raw dairy products:
The Delaware Division of Public Health (DPH) has identified simultaneous cases of Brucellosis in a 58 year old female New Castle County resident and Listeriosis in a 44 year old male in Sussex County. These illnesses are both bacterial infections which primarily affect those consuming or coming into contact with contaminated animals or animal products, most commonly the consumption of raw food or dairy products. In both instances, these patients had consumed raw dairy products prior to becoming ill, and the individual with Listeria had also been handling raw poultry products. No other risk factors have been identified. The Brucella case was hospitalized and discharged. The Listeria case is still admitted but stable.
The sale of raw dairy products is prohibited in Delaware. Raw milk has been connected with multiple outbreaks of illness in the U.S. this year, most recently an E. coli O157:H7 outbreak in Minnesota. Both of the ill persons appear to be recovering, although the person with Listeria remains hospitalized. Dr. Karyl Rattay, DPH director had this to say:
"It could have been much worse. These cases can serve as an unfortunate reminder that we are vulnerable to certain bacteria and should take precautions to protect ourselves. People will still need to handle affected animals or work with animal products but they should be aware of the dangers and the illness prevention measures. In addition, we should all be reminded that consuming questionable food items is not worth the risk to your health."
According to DPH, Brucellosis primarily affects farm workers, veterinarians and laboratory workers. Brucellosis is not common in the United States – nationally the average is less than 200 cases annually – as person to person transmission is rare. Brucellosis is most frequently transmitted by eating or drinking raw milk and cheese made with unpasteurized dairy products yet can also be contracted through inhalation or touch.
Listeria can be spread by several different methods, but is commonly transmitted through the ingestion of unpasteurized milk or contaminated vegetables.