What is Brucellosis?
Brucellosis is an infectious disease caused by the bacteria of the genus Brucella. It is primarily a disease of animals but may also affect humans. The disease occurs worldwide especially in Mediterranean countries of Europe and north Africa, east Africa, west Asia, central Asia, India, Mexico, Central and South America. Cattle, pigs, goats, sheep, bison, elk, caribou, dog and deer are the common sources of infection.
The incubation period of the disease varies from days to months. People infected with the Brucella bacteria usually develop symptoms similar to a severe influenza which may include fever, chills, drenching sweats, headache, back pain, physical weakness and loss of weight and appetite. Brucellosis can also cause long-lasting or chronic symptoms that include recurrent fevers, joint pain, and fatigue.
How is it transmitted?
Most humans contract the disease by consuming unpasteurized milk from infected animals or direct contact with carcasses or aborted fetuses of diseased animals. Direct person-to-person spread of brucellosis is extremely rare. Mothers who are breast-feeding may transmit the infection to their infants.
How to prevent it?
Do not consume unpasteurized milk, cheese, or ice cream while traveling. Use rubber gloves to handle carcass or viscera of animals when hunting. There is no vaccine available for humans.
How to treat it?
Brucellosis can be treated by antibiotics. A long course of antibiotics is used to prevent relapse. Depending on the timing of treatment and severity of illness, recovery may take a few weeks to several months.