What is Brucellosis ?
It is a disease that affects humans and animals. Brucellosis is an infectious disease that can be passed from animals to people mainly through unpasteurized milk, and other dairy products. Although very rare, the bacteria may also be spread through air and direct contact with the infected animal. The symptoms of brucellosis resemble those of flu infection. It is also rare to have person-to-person transmission of this disease.
What are the symptoms of brucellosis?
Symptoms of brucellosis tend to show within a period of few days but they can also take up to months to appear. Some of the symptoms include those related to flu. A person may have fever, sweats, chills, weakness, pain in joints, back, and muscles. Other symptoms are headache, dizziness, chest pain, cough, weight loss, irritability, depression, abdominal pain, enlarged liver, and spleen.
These symptoms can disappear for some time often weeks or months and return. The disease can also become chronic if not treated properly and the symptoms may persist for years following treatment. The long-term symptoms a person may suffer are such as fatigue, arthritis, fevers, and spondylitis or inflammatory arthritis condition, which affects the spinal area, and surrounding joints.
The condition can be difficult to identify considering that its symptoms may mimic those of other conditions like flu. In its early stages, many of the symptoms resemble flu infection. It is advisable that you see a doctor when you have high fever, weakness of muscles, aching of muscles and joints. If you have any risk factor of suffering the disease, it is also important that you consult a doctor especially if you notice one or more of these symptoms. Persistent fever is also another reason you may need to see a doctor.
Causes and spread of brucellosis
Different types of the brucella bacteria species cause brucellosis and they include brucella melitensis found in sheep, goats, and camels. Pigs also carry the brucella suis while cows, camels, elk, buffalo and yaks carry a type of brucella bacteria known as brucella abortus. Dogs on the other hand, carry brucella canis. Of all these types of brucella disease, the brucella melitensis is the most prevalent and causes the most severe cases of brucellosis.
Brucellosis is found in domestic and wild animals. Animals prone to this disease are such as sheep, pigs, cattle, goats, camels, wild reindeer, and boar. There is also a form of brucellosis, which affects certain whales, porpoises, and harbor seals. There are mainly three ways in which bacteria that causes the disease can spread from animals to people and they include eating raw dairy products, inhaling the microbes or bacteria and direct contact with animals suffering from the condition.
Brucella bacteria found in most infected animals can easily be transmitted to humans. This occurs through unpasteurized ice cream, milk, butter, and cheese. Raw and undercooked meat may also lead to spread of the disease to humans. The brucella bacteria can disperse in air. People like farmers, slaughterhouse workers, laboratory technicians and other people who work around animal areas may also be susceptible to suffering the condition.
The bacteria can also be spread through direct contact with blood, semen, and placenta of the infected animals. If a person has an open wound and other areas where fluids like blood from an infected animal can get through to the human blood, there is a possibility of getting the disease. However, normal contact with animals such as playing, brushing, or touching does not cause the disease. This is one reason why people rarely suffer the condition from their pets.
Nevertheless, it is recommended that people with weak immune system should refrain from handling dogs and other animals that are known to have the disease. Although the disease is not spread from human to human, there are rare cases where women with the condition have passed it to their infants through breast milk or during birth of infants. Moreover, the condition can rarely be spread through sexual activities, bone marrow transfusions, and contaminated blood.
The treatment of brucellosis is mainly through use of antibiotics. Since this condition has high relapse rate, the use of multiple drugs like antibiotics may be recommended. Some of the antimicrobials, which are used in treating this condition, are such as doxycycline, rifampin, gentamicin, and trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole.
The combination of antibiotics applied in treatment depends on the age, pregnancy, and severity of the symptoms. In normal cases, your doctor will recommend a full six weeks course of medication using antibiotics. When the treatment is done promptly, it can help improve the symptoms and prevent any complications that may occur because of brucellosis.
The treatment can be at times not easy because of the relapse rate of brucellosis, which are about 5 to 10 percent even with medication. In rare cases, surgical procedures are required to treat certain complications that may arise from this condition. One such complications may be heart valve infection.