Brucellosis – Symptoms, Causes and Risk factors


Brucellosis is bacterial infection. This infection spreads from animals to people. Mostly this infection can be spread via cheese, unpasteurized milk and other dairy products. There are rare cases in which people had this infection through direct contact with infected animal or by the bacteria which causes brucellosis when is spread in the air. [1,2] The symptoms of this infection can include joint pain, fatigue and fever. In the most cases brucellosis can be treated with antibiotics [3]. This treatment usually takes weeks to months. Relapses in brucellosis are very common. This disease is spread worldwide. It is affecting lots of people and animals every year. You should avoid unpasteurized dairy products because in this way you are decreasing your chances to get brucellosis. Also if you are working in a laboratory or with animals then you should take precautions.

Brucellosis – Symptoms and Causes

Symptoms: The symptoms of this disease can appear after few days or after few months from the day you were infected. These are the signs and symptoms of the brucellosis (they are very common to the signs and symptoms of the flu): [1]

  • Sweats
  • Fatigue
  • Chills
  • Weakness
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Muscle pain
  • Back pain
  • Joint pain

These signs and symptoms can disappear for weeks and moths but the chances to return again are very high. In some case people who were suffering from brucellosis after they have cured, after this period they have brucellosis again in the form of chronic brucellosis. If you have chronic brucellosis, then you can have spondylitis, fatigue, arthritis and fever.

When to see a doctor? This disease is very hard to be diagnosed because it has very similar signs and symptoms like the flu and especially is really hard to be diagnosed in the early stage. If you have some of the next symptoms: muscle aches, persistent fever, rapidly raising fever or unusual weakness, then you should visit your doctor. You should see your doctor about the signs and symptoms that you are feeling. Your doctor may refer you to infectious disease specialist. You should know when you were exposed to the bacteria which are cause for the brucellosis. Also you should how the bacteria were spread on your body. If you know information about yourself (it means about your health and when and how you have these bacteria) as much as possible, then your doctor can easily diagnose you. You should tell your doctor when was the first time that you had felt the signs and symptoms of your disease. Also you should tell your doctor if you have traveled abroad in the near past. Tell your doctor if your job includes animals. Also you should know about the dairy products that you have taken in the past. If you are working in a lab where infectious organisms are present, then you should tell your doctor. Your doctor will ask you to move your joints because he or she wants to be sure about the stiffness and pain which are located in your joints. Also your doctor will check the strength and the reflex on your muscles. Your doctor will press on your abdomen because he wants to know if your organs are tender or enlarged.

brucellosisCauses of brucellosis

Many domestic and wild animals can be affected by this disease. Goats, cattle, pigs, sheep, camels, reindeer and wild boar can easily have brucellosis. Also this disease can affect on certain whales, harbor seals and porpoises. There are three main ways in which this disease can be spread from animals to people:

  • Direct contact: Bacteria in a placenta, blood or semen of an infected animal can enter the bloodstream through wound or cut. People can get brucellosis by brushing, playing or touching their pets. [1]
  • Raw dairy products: When the brucella bacteria is located in the milk of the infected animals, then people can get this disease by ice cream, cheeses, unpasteurized milk and butter. Also if you eat uncooked meat or raw meat from infected animals, then you can get brucellosis. [4]
  • Inhalation: Slaughterhouse workers, farmers and laboratory technicians can inhale the brucella bacteria through the air.

Risk factors: People who are located in the United States of America have the lowest chances to get this disease. People staying in the following areas should be careful:-

  • Asia
  • Eastern Europe
  • Africa
  • Around the Mediterranean Sea
  • Latin America
  • The Middle East
  • The Caribbean

People who live in the above mentioned areas have the higher chances to have brucellosis [5].


[1] World Health Organization (WHO). Brucellosis in humans and animals. Retrieved from

[2] Franc KA, Krecek RC, Hasler BN, Arenas-Gamboa AM. Brucellosis remains a neglected disease in the developing world: a call for interdisciplinary action. BMC Public Health. 2018;18:125.

[3] Yousefi-Nooraie R, Mortaz-Hejri S, Mehrani M, Sadeghipour P. Antibiotics for treating human brucellosis. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. 2012;2012(10):CD007179.

[4] Celebi O, Celebi D, Balkan CE. Effects of boiling dairy products on human brucellosis. The Eurasian Journal of Medicine. 2013;45(2):73–6.

[5] Rubach MP, Halliday JEB, Cleaveland S, Crump JA. Brucellosis in low-income and middle-income countries. Current Opinion in Infectious Diseases. 2013;26(5):404–12.


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