Brucellosis - Causes and Symptoms
Other Names: Cyprus Fever, Gibraltar Fever, Malta Fever, Rock Fever, Undulant Fever
Definition of Brucellosis
Brucellosis is a disease caused by a bacteria, Brucella canis. It is found throughout the world. It is spread through contact with aborted fetuses and discharges from the uterus of infected bitches, during mating, through maternal milk and possibly through airborne transmission in some cases. It is a highly contagious disease of ruminant animals that also affects humans. Although brucellosis can attack other animals, its main threat is to cattle, bison, and swine. The disease is also known as contagious abortion or Bang's disease.
Brucellosis can be transmitted from animals to humans by ingestion of infected food products, direct contact with an infected animal, or inhalation of aerosols. The bacteria enters the body through mucous membranes and spreads from there to lymph nodes and the spleen. It also spreads to the uterus, placenta and prostate gland as well as other internal organs at times.
Causes of Brucellosis
Brucellosis is commonly transmitted through abrasions of the skin from handling infected mammals. In the United States, occurs more frequently by eating uncooked or undercooked contaminated meat or drinking unpasteurized milk or dairy products. Brucellosis is caused by the nonmotile, nonspore-forming, Gram-negative coccobacilli of the genus Brucella, notably B. suis (found in swine), B. melitensis (in goats), B. abortus (in cattle), and B. canis (in dogs).
People may also get brucellosis by handling the tissues, blood, urine, vaginal discharges, aborted fetuses, or placentas of infected animals. Spreading of brucellosis from one person to person other is usually rare but can occur very easily through sexual contact with an infected person, through transplantation of infected tissues, or through an infected mother to her infant during breastfeeding. Also, exposure to the drainage from fistulous withers in horses can cause brucellosis in humans.
Symptoms of Brucellosis
The symptoms of Brucellosis - which often mimic a severe bout of 'flu' - are acute or insidious in onset. The chronic phase consists of:
Osteoarticular complications are seen in 20%-60% of cases; sacroileitis is the most frequent joint manifestation. Genitourinary involvement may occur. Urogenital symptoms may dominate the clinical presentation in some patients. The duration of the disease can vary from a few weeks to many months.
As the disease progresses, it may cause a severe fever (104-105° 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. Additionally, abscesses may form in the testes, ovaries, kidneys, and brain (meningitis and encephalitis). About 10% to 15% of patients with such brain abscesses develop hearing and visual disorders, hemiplegia, and ataxia.
Treatment of Brucellosis
Some of the treatment options for brucellosis includes:
There is no human vaccine for brucellosis, but humans can be protected by controlling the disease in livestock. It is only available for cattle, but not humans. After checking to make sure an animal is not already infected, and destroying those that are, all livestock should be immunized.
Some of the preventive measures to be taken are:
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