Brucellosis is a bacterial infection caused by Brucella. The infection spreads from animals to humans via unpasteurized milk and different dairy products. It can also spread through direct contact. Brucellosis features with fatigue, increased body temperature and pain in joints.
Symptoms of Brucellosis
The incubation period may last from several days to even few months after the person has been infected. Patients most commonly develop flu-like symptoms. They include fever and chills, profuse perspiration, weakness, and exhaustion. Patients also complain about headache and pain in joints.
The problem with brucellosis is that symptoms of the disease may withdraw and then re-occur after week or even months. Some people may develop chronic form of the disease. In chronic brucellosis patients most commonly suffer from fatigue and occasional fever, arthritis and spondylitis.
Causes of Brucellosis
Brucellosis is primarily the disease of domestic animals. It affects cattle, goats, sheep and so on. Even wild animals may catch the disease. It is confirmed that 6 species of Brucella may cause brucellosis in animals. Not all of them may cause the disease in humans. Still even humans can be infected and there are several paths of transmission. The first one is consumption of raw dairy products and raw or uncooked meat of infected animals. Furthermore, people can get infected by inhaling bacteria. This way of transmission commonly affects laboratory technicians or workers at slaughterhouse. And finally, bacteria may enter the body through cuts and wounds if a person gets in contact with the blood, semen or placenta of the infected animal. This way veterinarians may get infected.
Tests and Diagnosis of Brucellosis
The best way to confirm the infection is by testing the blood. The blood may contain either the very bacteria or antibodies to the bacteria. Sometimes doctors even take samples of bone marrow.
In case of complications the doctor may perform X-ray of the bones to confirm or rule out certain structural changes in bones and joints. Apart from that CT scan or MRI may help in identification of abscesses in the brain and other organs, and EKG may point to damage to the heart.
Treatment for Brucellosis
The goal of the treatment is to eradicate the bacteria and prevent re-occurrence of the disease and potential complications. The therapy with specific medications lasts approximately 6 weeks. The treatment includes a combination of two or even three antibiotics. The most common combination is doxycycline and streptomycin, rifampin or gentamicin. The treatment is in majority of cases successful. Still in some patients relapses may occur.
The best way is to prevent the disease. This particularly refers to farmers who are due to vaccinate their animals. People who may be at risk also should take certain measures of precaution while manipulating with animals and their secretions.