Brucellosis (patient information)
Brucellosis On the Web
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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D.  Associate Editor(s)-in-Chief: Raviteja Guddeti, M.B.B.S.  Danitza Lukac
Brucellosis is an infectious disease that occurs from contact with animals carrying Brucella bacteria.
What are the symptoms of Brucellosis?
Acute brucellosis may begin with mild flu-like symptoms, or symptoms such as:
- Abdominal pain
- Back pain
- Excessive sweating
- Joint pain
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
High fever spikes usually occur every afternoon. The name "undulant" fever is because the fever rises and falls in waves.
Other symptoms that may occur with this disease:
The illness may be chronic and last for years.
What causes Brucellosis?
- Brucella can infect cattle, goats, camels, dogs, and pigs. The bacteria can spread to humans if you come in contact with infected meat or the placenta of infected animals, or if you eat or drink unpasteurized milk or cheese.
- Brucellosis is rare in the United States.
Who is at highest risk?
- People working in jobs where they often come in contact with animals or meat such as slaughterhouse workers, farmers, and veterinarians, are at higher risk.
When to seek urgent medical care?
Call for an appointment with your health care provider if:
- You develop symptoms of brucellosis
- Your symptoms get worse or do not improve with treatment
- You develop new symptoms
- Blood culture
- Bone marrow culture
- Serology for brucellosis antigen
This disease may also change the results of the following tests:
- Febrile/cold agglutinins
- Quantitative immunoglobulins (nephelometry)
- Serum immunoelectrophoresis
- Antibiotics are used to treat the infection and prevent it from coming back. Longer courses of therapy may be needed if there are complications.
- Drinking and eating only pasteurized milk and cheeses is the most important way to prevent brucellosis. People who handle meat should wear protective glasses and clothing and protect skin breaks from infection.
- Detecting infected animals controls the infection at its source. Vaccination is available for cattle, but not humans.
Where to find medical care for Brucellosis?
Directions to Hospitals Treating Brucellosis
What to expect (Outlook/Prognosis)?
- Relapses may occur, and symptoms may continue for years. As with tuberculosis, the illness can come back after a long period of time.
- Bone and joint sores (lesions)
- Infective endocarditis