Brucellosis is an infectious disease that is spread from animals to humans. In humans, it is usually passed by four categories of species named Melitensis (camels, goats and sheeps), Suis (pigs), Abortus (cows, buffalos, yaks, camels and elks) and Canis (dogs).
The bacteria infects humans when they come in contact with infected meat of placenta of infected animals or when you consume unpasteurized milk or cheese. The bacteria can also enter the body through cuts and scratches or when you breathe in contaminated air.
Symptoms of brucellosis include mild flu-like symptoms and include abdominal pain, back pain, swelling, chills, excessive sweating, fatigue, fever, headache, joint pain, muscle pain, appetite loss, weakness and weight loss. These generally appear within 5 to 30 days after the individual comes in contact with the bacteria.
It is very difficult to diagnose the illness as the symptoms are shared by other febrile illnesses too. The doctor will examine the patient for a swollen liver, swollen lymph nodes or swollen spleen. Blood tests and tissue tests are undertaken to diagnose and determine the type of Brucellosis which helps identify the source of the infection. A series of other tests like CT scan, ultrasound, MRI, lumbar puncture, X-ray, electrocardiogram or joint aspiration may also be performed depending upon the patient’s symptoms.
A combination of antibiotics like tetracycline, streptomycin, rifampin and doxycycline are used to treat the infection which can take weeks or even months for complete recovery. However, longer courses of therapy may be required if there are complications like bone and joint lesions, encephalitis, meningitis and infective endocarditic.
Relapse of the illness is common and sometimes symptoms continue to linger on for many years.
Brucellosis can be prevented by avoiding consumption of unpasteurized milk and cheese or eating undercooked meats. Those who handle and work closely with such animals should always wear protective clothing, gloves and glasses to protect the skin breaks from infection. A vaccination to control the infection for animals is available and must be injected at specified times.
The treatment cost generally includes your doctor’s fee, testing fees and medicine fees. Rarely any surgical treatments are undertaken to cure the disease.