Brucellosis (cont.)

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What are the complications of brucellosis?

In general, if treated appropriately with antibiotics in a timely manner after the onset of symptoms, the prognosis for patients with brucellosis is excellent. The mortality rate is low (<2%). However, several potential complications can develop and may include involvement of the following organ systems:

  • Bones and joints

    • Sacroiliitis, spondylitis, and osteomyelitis

  • Cardiovascular

    • Endocarditis (a primary cause of death), myocarditis, and pericarditis

  • Central nervous system (neurobrucellosis)

    • Meningoencephalitis

  • Gastrointestinal

    • Hepatitis, hepatic abscess, colitis, and spontaneous peritonitis

  • Genitourinary

    • Orchitis

  • Pulmonary

  • Ocular

    • Optic neuritis and uveitis

How can brucellosis be prevented?

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.
  • Brucellosis is an infectious disease caused by bacteria from the genus Brucella.
  • Brucellosis is an infection of certain animals that is transmitted to humans.
  • Humans acquire brucellosis when they come in contact with contaminated animals or animal products, most commonly from the ingestion of raw milk or cheese.
  • The symptoms of brucellosis may include fever, sweating, body aches, and joint pain.
  • Brucellosis is typically diagnosed through blood tests and by isolating the organism from blood and other body tissues.
  • A multidrug antibiotic regimen is the cornerstone of treatment for brucellosis.
  • The complications of brucellosis may involve various organ systems.
  • Brucellosis can be prevented by animal-disease-control measures, avoidance of unpasteurized dairy products, and occupational protective measures.


Al Nassir, Wafa, Michelle V. Lisgaris, Robert A. Salata. "Brucellosis." eMedicine. Feb. 3, 2009. <>.

Maloney Jr., Gerald E. "CBRNE-Brucellosis." eMedicine. Apr. 29, 2009. <>.

Switzerland. "Brucellosis (Human)." World Health Organization.<>.

Switzerland. "Brucellosis." World Health Organization. <>.

United States. "Brucellosis." Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Dec. 7, 2007. <>.

Last Editorial Review: 1/27/2010 5:01:36 PM

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