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Brucellosis Facts (cont.)

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What is brucellosis?

Brucellosis is in infectious disease caused by bacteria in the genus Brucella. Brucella are aerobic, gram-negative coccobacilli. Brucellosis is a zoonotic infection (meaning the disease occurs mainly in animals but is occasionally transferred to humans). Brucellosis has been known by various names such as Mediterranean fever, Malta fever, undulant fever, Crimean fever, Bang's disease, and gastric remittent fever. Brucellosis is found in North-American wild animals (elk, bison) and is occasionally found in domesticated animals (cattle, pigs, sheep, and goats). The major species of the genus Brucella that cause the disease are B. melitensis, B. suis, B. abortus, and B. canis; these are associated with sheep, pigs, cattle, and dogs respectively. The most pathogenic (likely to cause disease) species are B. melitensis and B. suis.

What is the history of brucellosis?

Brucellosis was thought to be first described by Hippocrates and the Romans more than 2,000 years ago. In 1887, Dr. David Bruce isolated the organisms from patients who were living on the island of Malta (hence the name Malta fever). The disease was eventually named after Dr. Bruce (brucellosis). The disease has been found worldwide, and high-risk areas include the Mediterranean countries, South and Central America, Eastern Europe, Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and the Caribbean. Fortunately, there are only about 100-200 people infected per year in the United States. California and Texas have the highest infection rates.

Strains of highly pathogenic Brucella have been considered to be used as a biological weapon because the organisms can be aerosolized and then easily inhaled.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 10/7/2016


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