Brucellosis is a rare bacterial disease that causes intermittent fevers. Brucellosis is primarily passed among animals, but people can acquire this disease from domesticated animals. It results in
symptoms, and may cause long-lasting symptoms. There are only about 100 to 200 cases of brucellosis in humans in the US each year.
Brucellosis is caused by the bacterium
This bacterium infects domesticated animals. It can be spread to humans through:
Drinking unpasteurized milk
Eating dairy foods from infected cows, sheep, or goats
Having direct contact with the secretions, excretions, or carcasses of infected animals
Inhaling the bacteria
Breastfeeding (passed from mother to infant)
A risk factor is something that increases your chance of getting a disease or condition. Risk factors for brucellosis include:
Eating or drinking unpasteurized dairy foods, especially when traveling
Working with domesticated animals and livestock, especially sheep, goats, cattle, deer, elk, and pigs, or their excretions, secretions, or carcasses
Sex: male (possibly due to occupational exposure among farmers, ranchers, veterinarians, people working in tanneries, and slaughterhouse workers)
Symptoms of brucellosis usually appear within two weeks of infection. Symptoms can appear from five days to several months after infection.
As it progresses, brucellosis causes a severe fever (104° F to 105° F). This fever occurs in the evening along with severe sweating. It becomes normal or near normal in the morning, and usually begins again at night.
This intermittent fever usually lasts 1 to 5 weeks, after which symptoms usually subside or disappear for two days to two weeks. Then the fever recurs. In some patients, this fever recurs only once. In others, the disease becomes chronic, and the fever recurs, subsides, and then recurs again repeatedly over months or years.
)—to reveal abscesses, calcifications, or enlargement of the liver, spleen, or vertebrae
Many patients recover from brucellosis on their own. However, early diagnosis and treatment can reduce the risk of complications and infection. Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Treatment options include:
Your doctor may prescribe one or more antibiotics (usually
and rifampin) to control and prevent relapses of brucellosis. Antibiotics are given for up to six weeks.
To help reduce your chances of getting brucellosis, take the following steps:
Avoid eating or drinking unpasteurized milk and dairy foods. If you are unsure if a dairy product is pasteurized, don’t eat it.
Wear rubber gloves and goggles, and securely cover open wounds when handling domesticated animals including their secretions, excretions, or carcasses.
Wear a protective mask when dealing with brucellosis cultures in the laboratory.
Have cattle and bison that live in areas heavily infected with brucellosis vaccinated by an accredited veterinarian or government health official (the vaccine contains a live virus and is dangerous to humans). For best results, calves should be vaccinated when they are 4-6 months old. There is no brucellosis vaccine for humans as of yet.
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care
provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a
substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER
IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the
advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to
starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a