What is Brucellosis? Symptoms, Causes, Treatment & Prevention
Brucellosis is a bacterial infection that causes flu-like symptoms, weakness, and joint pain. Its tendency to relapse makes it an especially difficult disease to manage. It can be contracted by humans or animals that come in contact with raw or unpasteurized dairy products from infected cattle, pigs, or goats.
Brucellosis is rare in the general population but is more commonly found in people who work with livestock or have frequent exposure to animal blood, such as veterinarians and slaughterhouse workers. If you think you’ve contracted Brucellosis and want to know more about the disease and its effects on your body – keep reading!
What are the Symptoms of Brucellosis?
People who have developed an acute case of Brucellosis will usually experience flu-like symptoms like fatigue, headaches, muscle pain, and joint pain. Brucellosis can also cause a skin rash in some people. If left untreated, Brucellosis can lead to long-term complications, including arthritis, heart disease, and nerve damage.
It’s important to note that the symptoms of Brucellosis might not appear for weeks after exposure to the bacteria, so it’s important to see a doctor as soon as you think you have been infected.
Since different people experience different levels of severity when it comes to symptoms, it’s hard to identify what level of severity a person might be experiencing based on their symptoms alone. However, some symptoms, such as fever and severe sweating, should always be reported to a doctor immediately.
What Causes Brucellosis?
Brucellosis is caused by Brucella bacteria, which are transmitted to human beings through the consumption of unpasteurized dairy products. The bacteria can also be transmitted from animals to humans through contact with infected bodily fluids or contaminated soil or water. Brucellosis is most commonly associated with consuming raw milk or dairy products from infected animals, including pigs, goats, and cows.
It is less commonly found in sheep and goats. The bacteria can be transmitted from pregnant animals to their fetuses. In rare cases, people can be infected with Brucella bacteria through contact with animals that are infected with Brucella. People who work closely with infected animals, like veterinarians and animal handlers, are at a higher risk of contracting the disease.
How is Brucellosis Diagnosed?
A doctor will likely diagnose Brucellosis based on a person’s symptoms, medical history, and blood test results. If a person has been exposed to the infection, a blood test about two weeks later will show signs of the infection, including an increase in an enzyme called creatine kinase, which is often found in the blood of people with Brucellosis.
Bacterial cultures, which are tests that detect bacteria in bodily fluids, can also be done to see if Brucella bacteria are present. Sometimes, a doctor may do an ultrasound, X-ray, or CT scan to see if a person has any long-term effects of Brucellosis.
Treatment & Medication Options for Brucellosis
Brucellosis can be treated with antibiotics like doxycycline or tetracycline. In some cases, doctors may opt to treat Brucellosis with a combination of antibiotics. Since the disease is known to relapse, especially in people previously treated for Brucellosis, doctors might recommend a long-term antibiotic treatment to reduce the risk of relapse.
In some cases, a person with Brucellosis might have to take antibiotics for up to a year. In some cases, people with severe cases of Brucellosis may need to take steroids as well as antibiotics. In rare cases, people with Brucellosis may need to have some of their organs removed.
Long-Term Effects of Brucellosis
Brucellosis has a high likelihood of recurring in people treated for the disease in the past, especially if they were treated with antibiotics. People who have recovered from Brucellosis may experience long-term effects from the disease, including joint pain, heart disease, and nerve damage.
Brucellosis can also cause long-term complications in people who have never been diagnosed with the disease, including arthritis and a type of arthritis called osteomyelitis, which is an infection in the bones.
Complications of Brucellosis
While Brucellosis is not typically life-threatening, it is important to seek treatment for the disease as soon as possible because it can lead to other, more serious complications. Long-term complications of untreated or poorly treated Brucellosis can include arthritis, heart disease, and nerve damage.
In rare cases, Brucellosis can also cause meningitis, meningococcal disease, endocarditis, and severe brain, blood, and heart infections. In some rare cases, Brucellosis can be lethal, especially in immunocompromised people.
Final Words: Brucellosis Bacteria
Brucellosis is a bacterial infection that can potentially be extremely detrimental to your health if left untreated. While it is rare in the general population, it is more commonly found in people who work closely with livestock or have frequent exposure to animal blood. If you think you’ve contracted the disease, make sure to see a doctor as soon as possible for the best chance at a full recovery.