It’s not often that the medical and public health establishments express concern about vaccination, but in Pennsylvania, authorities are now advising raw milk producers to “stop immunizing their cattle for Brucella.”
The advisory came in the form of a November 30 letter to Pennsylvania raw dairies from the state’s Department of Agriculture, signed by two officials—David Wolfgang, director of its Bureau of Animal Health and Diagnostic Services, and Lydia Johnson, director of its Bureau of Food Safety and Laboratory Services. In effect, the letter seems to shift blame associated with at least two recent cases of brucellosis in humans from dairy producers to the vaccine itself. In particular, regulators have blamed Udder Milk, a distributor of raw milk in several northeast states, for one of the illnesses and threatened the firm with shutdown. From all accounts, including from Kathy on this blog, Udder continues in operation.
In its letter, the PDA refers to “several cases of brucellosis in humans that have been linked by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to consumption of raw dairy products in the Southern and Mid-Atlantic states. In these unusual cases, the Brucella isolated is identical to the strain of bacteria used in the RB 51 vaccine. The news release from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention noted that, ‘the only way to avoid this potential exposure to RB 51 is to drink pasteurized milk.’ “
But by the end of its letter, the PDA adds a second option for avoiding exposure to RB 51: discontinue immunizing cows with the Brucella vaccine. “This is especially important if the herd contains Jersey cattle,” the PDA letter says, since all the human infections thus far have “come from vaccinated Jersey cattle.” Pennsylvania has one of the friendliest raw dairy licensing programs in the country, with about 35 dairies covered. Plus, additional dozens of dairies produce without licenses, selling directly to food clubs.
One Pennsylvania raw dairy farmer who doesn’t vaccinate his cows for Brucella told me he was stunned by the PDA letter. “I have never seen anything like it before in my dairy farming career. A state agricultural agency admitting that two cases of human illness have a direct identical bacterial link to vaccinations and advising raw milk farmers to stop immunizing their cattle because of this risk!”
He’s never seen anything like this because the medical establishment is very reluctant to blame vaccines for creating problems of any sort, in animals or humans. Until the PDA stepped up with its transparent assessment, the CDC was blaming raw milk for the problem, and saying the only solution was pasteurizing the milk.