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What is Brucellosis?

Brucellosis is a disease caused by bacteria, primarily passed among animals such as cattle, sheep, goats, and deer. Other types of animals can also be infected. People become infected by coming in contact with animals or animal products that are contaminated with these bacteria.  

How is brucellosis spread?

People are normally infected in one of three ways: eating or drinking something that is contaminated with the bacteria, breathing in the organism, or having the bacteria enter the body through skin wounds. The most common way to be infected is through unpasteurized milk and dairy products from diseased cows, sheep, and goats. It can also be transmitted to people from animals through infected tissue and animal waste products.

Person-to-person infection is rare, though it can be transmitted from mothers breast-feeding their babies or sexual transmission.

How common is brucellosis?

Brucellosis is rare in people in the United States. There are usually between 100 and 200 cases each year in the United States. Most cases are among recent immigrants, people who have ingested food products imported from abroad, or in people who have traveled to countries where brucellosis is common. Occasionally there are cases reported in veterinarians, butchers, meat inspectors, and farmers.

What are the symptoms of brucellosis?

In humans, symptoms of brucellosis include irregular fever, headache, weakness, sweating, chills, weight loss, physical weakness, and general aching. Infection of organs including the liver, the central nervous system, the lining of the heart, and the spleen may also occur. The disease in humans remains for several weeks or months and may get progressively worse. Brucellosis can also cause long-lasting or chronic symptoms that include recurrent fevers, joint pain, and fatigue. 

What is the treatment for brucellosis?

Brucellosis infection is treated with a combination of antibiotics that lasts for six weeks to prevent reoccurring infection. Depending on the severity of illness, recovery may take a few weeks to several months.

Are there complications from brucellosis?

The risk of death from brucellosis is low, less than 2%, and is usually associated

with infection of the heart valves and parts of the inside lining of the heart muscle.

How can brucellosis be prevented?

Brucellosis can be prevented by not consuming unpasteurized milk, cheese, or ice cream while traveling.

There is no human vaccine available. 

How do I get more information on brucellosis?

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Phone: (888) 246-2675

570 N. Marshall Rd
Coldwater, MI  49036

517-279-9561
20 Care Drive
Hillsdale, MI 49242

517-437-7395
1110 Hill St.
Three Rivers, MI  49093

269-273-2161
 
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