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.

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