By Medically reviewed by hellodoktor

Know the basics

What is brucellosis?

Brucellosis is a bacterial infection that spreads from animals to people. These bacteria can infect both humans and animals. Most patients are infected due to consuming unpasteurized products from infected animals. More rarely, the bacteria that cause brucellosis can spread through the air or through direct contact with infected animals. Human-to-human transmission is very rare.

How common is brucellosis?

The disease affects to hundreds of thousands of people and animals worldwide. Avoiding unpasteurized dairy products and taking precautions when working with animals or in a laboratory can help prevent brucellosis.

Know the symptoms

What are the symptoms of brucellosis?

The common symptoms of brucellosis include:

  • Fever;
  • Chills;
  • Sweats;
  • Weakness;
  • Fatigue;
  • Joint, muscle and back pain;
  • Headache;
  • Cough;
  • Abdominal pain.

There may be some symptoms not listed above. If you have any concerns about a symptom, please consult your doctor.

When should I see my doctor?

Brucellosis can be hard to identify because it often resembles many other conditions, such as the flu. See your doctor if you have some symptoms below:

  • You develop a long-lasting fever muscle aches.
  • You have an unusual weakness or any risk factors for the disease.
  • You have a persistent fever.

Know the causes

What causes brucellosis?

Brucellosis can be transferred from animals to human by:

  • Unpasteurized products: brucella bacteria in the milk of infected animals can spread to humans in unpasteurized milk, ice cream, butter and cheeses. The bacteria can also be transmitted in raw or undercooked meat from infected animals.
  • Inhalation: brucella bacteria spread easily in the air.
  • Direct contact: bacteria from an infected animal can enter your body through open wound. Normal touching with animals does not cause infection, people rarely get brucellosis from their pets. Even so, people with weakened immune systems should avoid handling dogs that are known to have the disease.

Brucellosis often does not spread from person to person, but in a few cases, women have passed the disease to their infants during birth or through their breast milk. Rarely, brucellosis may spread through sexual activity or through contaminated blood or bone marrow transfusions.

Know the risk factors

What increases my risk for brucellosis?

There are many risk factors for brucellosis, especially if you are:

  • Veterinarians;
  • Farmers who raise the animals;
  • Ranchers;
  • Hunters;
  • Microbiologists;
  • Eat or drink unpasteurized dairy products infected animals;
  • Travel to areas where brucellosis is happening;
  • Work in a meat-processing plant or slaughterhouse.

Understand the diagnosis & treatment

The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.

How is brucellosis diagnosed?

Doctors usually confirm a diagnosis of brucellosis by testing a sample of blood or bone marrow for the brucella bacteria or by testing blood for antibodies to the bacteria. To help detect complications of brucellosis, you may have additional tests, including:

  • Imaging tests: These tests can show an image inside your body, including X-rays, Computerized tomography (CT) scan, Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
  • Cerebrospinal fluid culture: this checks a small sample of the fluid that surrounds your brain and spinal cord for infections.
  • Echocardiography: this test uses sound waves to create images of your heart to check for signs of infection or damage to your heart.

How is brucellosis treated?

You will be prescribed antibiotics for at least six weeks, and your symptoms may not go away completely for several months. The disease can also return and may become chronic.

Lifestyle changes & Home remedies

What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage brucellosis?

The following lifestyles and home remedies might help you reduce the risk of brucellosis:

  • Avoid unpasteurized dairy foods.
  • Only consuming cooked meat: meat should be cooked with a temperature of at least 63 to 740
  • Limit direct contact: if you’re a veterinarian, farmer, hunter or slaughterhouse worker, you should wear rubber gloves when handling sick, dead animals or animal products.
  • Vaccinate domestic animals: vaccination is an effective way to prevent animals from being infected.

If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Review Date: August 18, 2016 | Last Modified: September 12, 2019

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