Two things are clear from all the publicity in the New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania media about Miller’s Biodiversity Farm in Pennsylvania: 

1.One individual, from New York, has been sickened with RB51, a bacteria that causes brucellosis;

2.The farm has been quarantined.

More mysterious is how the individual became sick from a pathogen that has supposedly been eradicated. Another question is when the farm might reopen.

Based on an advisory from the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture a year ago, it seems very possible that the illness could have come from a cow that was vaccinated against brucellosis. The PDA at that time advised the many dozens of sellers of raw milk in Pennsylvania to refrain from immunizing their cows against brucellosis. 

The PDA referred 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.’ “

The PDA added 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 said, since all the human infections thus far have “come from vaccinated Jersey cattle.”

Miller’s Biodiversity Farm is not the same as the farm operated by Amos Miller in Pennsylvania. It is owned by Aaron Miller, an unrelated Amish farmer.

According to an email communication from the farm to food club members, the farm has engaged veterinarians to help it track down where on its farm the pathogen may have originated. Presumably, a vaccinated cow that mistakenly made its way into the farm’s herd is among the potential culprits. The farm’s owner indicated that he expects the quarantine to end soon, possibly within days, hopefully with the mystery solved.