Brucellosis is a bacterial infection caused by a bacteria Brucella. These bacteria are present in animal and can spread from animals to humans. The causative agent is generally present in domestic animals like cows, pigs, goats, dogs and camels. There are few strains of bacteria that are also found in the marine animals like seals.
According to World Health Organization brucellosis is reported in more than 100 countries every year and around half million people suffer with this disease. It generally infects humans when a person comes in contact with infected animal or infected animal product.
There are four different types of Brucella bacteria that are known to cause infection in humans.
- Brucella melitensis – It is the most common cause of brucellosis in humans. Brucella melitensis is found usually in sheep and goats.
- Brucella suis – It is present mostly in wild pigs.
- Brucella canis – This organism is generally present in dogs. Dogs acts as carrier for these bacteria and spread the infections to humans.
- Brucella abortus – It is present mostly in cattle. This organism is spread worldwide and not restricted to few countries.
Brucellosis is caused by a bacteria Brucella that is present in animals and can be transferred to humans. In general brucellosis is not transmitted from person to person. In rare cases when the breastfeeding mother is infected with Brucella bacteria, they tend to transfer the bacteria to the babies.
Bacteria enters your body through skin. When you have open wounds, scars and scratch, the bacteria tend to enter through them and cause infection. The bacteria are also present in the contaminated air and when you inhale the bacteria enters in your body leading to infection. Animal products like unpasteurized milk or undercooked meat tend also carries the bacteria.
You are more likely to suffer with brucellosis infection when you do the following things:
- When you eat or drink unpasteurized dairy products, you are more likely to suffer with brucellosis as these unpasteurized products carry the bacteria.
- When you travel to areas where Brucella organism is common and spread all over the region. It is preferable to take necessary precautions to avoid infection in such instances.
- When you work in a slaughtering house or a meat processing plants, you are at very high risk of infection.
- When you work in a farm or in close association with cattle and other infected animals, you are more likely to get infected.
Patients suffering with brucellosis generally show symptoms within 5 to 30 days of infection. The initial symptoms are similar to flu like symptoms. The common symptoms seen in brucellosis patient include:
- Abdominal pain
- Loss of appetite
- Back pain
- Swollen liver
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Swollen spleen
- Swollen joints
Diagnosis and Prevention
When you experience the above following symptoms, you need to take medical assistance to avoid further complications due to infection. Blood tests are generally done to diagnose brucellosis infection.
Brucellosis can be prevented by keeping away from infected animals that are suspected to carry the Brucella bacteria. Taking your pets for regular checkups can also avoid the risk of infections that can spread through the animals.