What is Brucellosis?
Brucellosis is a zoonotic disease – a disease that can be transmitted from animals to humans. It is an infectious disease that causes flu-like symptoms and can spread from animals to humans. Brucellosis occurs due to infection with Brucella bacteria.
It can be developed from contact with infected animals or from consuming uncooked or undercooked meat or unpasteurized dairy products. Without treatment, brucellosis can lead to serious complications.
Brucellosis is also known by various different names like Mediterranean fever, Malta fever, Crimean fever, gastric remittent fever, etc.
General brucellosis symptoms are often similar to flu. They include:
- Fever with high spikes
- Back pain
- Body-wide aches and pains
- Poor appetite and weight loss
- Night sweats
- Abdominal pain
The symptoms usually appear within five to 30 days after one comes in contact with the bacteria.The intensity of the symptoms depends on the different types of brucellosis:
- B. abortus usually causes mild or moderate symptoms, but they are more likely to become chronic
- People with B. canis often have vomiting and diarrhea. B. canis symptoms may come and go.
- B. suis may cause areas of infection in different organs.
- B. melitensis may cause sudden and acute symptoms, which may result in disability.
Who is at risk?
Brucellosis risk factors differ from person to person. You are at a higher risk of brucellosis is you,
- Consume unpasteurized dairy products from cows, goats, or other animals which could be infected with the bacteria
- Consume other unpasteurized cheeses which come from high-risk regions, including the Mediterranean
- Travel to areas where Brucella is common
- Work in a meat-processing plant or slaughterhouse
- Work on a farm
Brucellosis causes include coming in contact with one of several species of bacteria from the Brucella genus. Different animal species host different types of Brucella bacteria, however, not all of them can infect humans.
Brucella bacteria can enter the body through the eyes, mouth, or cuts in the skin. One can develop the infection by,
- Consuming uncooked meat: The disease can be contracted by eating uncooked or undercooked meat from an animal with the infection.
- Consuming unpasteurized dairy products: Brucella bacteria can live in the milk of cows, goats, and sheep. Raw milk and products made with it can pass on the infection.
- Having contact with infected animals: Breathing in Brucella bacteria or coming into contact with bodily fluid from an animal with the infection can spread it to humans.
Person-to-person transmission is possible, even though it is rare. It may occur through breastfeeding, sex, blood transfusions, or tissue transplants.
How is Brucellosis diagnosed?
It is vital to tell a general physician if you have flu-like symptoms and you have been exposed to animals that might have brucellosis. The exposure does not have to be recent. One can contract the disease even if the exposure has happened months ago.
The doctor may test you if you have unexplained flu-like symptoms. Tests for brucellosis diagnosis include:
- Blood culture
- Urine culture
- Bone marrow culture
- Cerebrospinal fluid testing
- Testing for antibodies to brucellosis
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How is Brucellosis treated?
Brucellosis treatment is typically done by prescribing a combination of the antibiotics doxycycline and rifampin. They can prescribe other combinations as well. The treatment for brucellosis cure usually lasts for 6–8 weeks.
The patient should get plenty of rest to support recovery.
Some complications attached to brucellosis include:
- Kidney damage
- Liver damage
- Problems with blood clotting
- Blood poisoning
- Encephalitis, or inflammation of the brain
- A stroke
How can Brucellosis be prevented?
Prevention of brucellosis is possible. To lower the chances of contracting it, one must:
- Avoid eating raw meat or drinking unpasteurized milk, cheese, ice cream, and other dairy products.
- Wear protective gears like gloves and glasses when handling animals or animal tissues.
- Cover any open wounds on your skin when coming in contact with animal blood.
- Wear protective clothing and gloves when helping animals give birth.
There are strict measures in place to prevent and control brucellosis in farm animals. These include:
- Buying new animals from healthy flocks or herds
- Quarantining new animals
- Testing meat and milk for Brucella bacteria
- Vaccinating animals
- Practicing good hygiene and animal husbandry