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Bacteria
Brucella abortus
Disease
Brucellosis (in cows, buffalo, elk, camels, yaks)
Symptoms

The symptoms and signs of brucellosis may develop from days to months after the initial exposure to the organism (incubation period). While some individuals may develop mild symptoms, others may go on to develop long-term chronic symptoms.
The signs and symptoms of brucellosis are extensive and they can be similar to many other febrile illnesses. They include

  • fever (the most common finding, and it may be intermittent and relapsing), sweating, body aches, joint pain, fatigue, weakness, dizziness, headache, depression, irritability, loss of appetite, weight loss, cough, difficulty breathing, chest pain, abdominal pain, enlarged liver and/or spleen

Other symptoms and signs may also be present with brucellosis. Certain variables such as the severity of illness, the chronicity of illness, and the development of complications can all impact the clinical findings associated with the disease.

Treatment

The cornerstone of treatment for brucellosis is antibiotics. Because of the high relapse rate associated with the disease, the use of a multidrug (two or more) antibiotic regimen is recommended. The antimicrobials most commonly used include doxycycline (Vibramycin), streptomycin, rifampin(Rifadin), gentamicin (Garamycin), and trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole(Bactrim, Septra). The combination of antibiotics used will vary based on disease severity, age and pregnancy.

In general, a full six-week course of antibiotics is recommended, and prompt treatment can lead to an improvement in symptoms and may also prevent the complications associated with brucellosis. However, relapse rates of the disease are still about 5%-10%, even with treatment. Depending on the severity of illness, the associated complications (if any) and the timing of treatment, recovery may take from a few weeks to a few months.

Rarely, surgical intervention may be needed for certain complications associated with brucellosis, such as abscess formation or heart-valve infection. Your health-care provider may need to consult other physicians, including surgeons, infectious disease specialists, or a neurologist.

Preventive measures

The prevention of brucellosis can be achieved through various measures. The most important step in preventing brucellosis in humans begins with the control and/or eradication of the infection in animals who serve as a reservoir. This requires a coordinated effort between local public-health organizations and animal-disease-control entities. The most effective measures to achieve this objective include animal vaccination programs, animal testing, and the elimination of infected animals. There is no human vaccine currently available.
In areas where eradication of the disease may not be possible, preventive measures are aimed at reducing the risk of transmission to humans. These measures may include

  • pasteurization of dairy products; avoiding the consumption of unpasteurized dairy products, including milk and cheese; avoiding the consumption of undercooked meat; using appropriate barrier precautions (goggles, gloves, masks, etc) to avoid exposure to aerosols and body fluids for those with an occupational risk for brucellosis; warning laboratory workers about potentially infected specimens so that appropriate biosafety level III precautions can be taken.
 
 
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