- Bacterial Infections 101 Pictures Slideshow
- Take the Tummy Trouble Quiz
- Hepatitis C Slideshow Pictures
- Patient Comments: Brucellosis - Symptoms
- Brucellosis facts
- What is brucellosis?
- What is the history of brucellosis?
- What are causes of brucellosis?
- What are risk factors for brucellosis?
- Is brucellosis contagious? How long is brucellosis contagious?
- What is the incubation period for brucellosis?
- How is brucellosis transmitted to humans?
- What are symptoms and signs of brucellosis?
- What specialists treat brucellosis?
- How do physicians diagnose brucellosis?
- What are brucellosis treatments?
- Are there home remedies for brucellosis?
- What is the prognosis of brucellosis?
- Is it possible to prevent brucellosis? Is there a brucellosis vaccine?
How is brucellosis transmitted to humans?
The most common way individuals become infected with brucellosis is by eating or drinking unpasteurized or raw dairy products. If animals like sheep, goats, cows, or camels are infected with Brucella, the milk they produce is contaminated with the bacteria. Another way that brucellosis spreads to humans is by inhalation of the bacteria. Although this risk is generally associated with people who work in laboratories studying Brucella organisms, it is possible that people working in meat-processing areas could be exposed to the bacteria by inhalation of droplets from contaminated meat (cattle, sheep). The bacteria can also infect humans through breaks in the skin or through the mucous membranes. Commonly infected animals that are hunted that may contain Brucella are caribou, moose, wild hogs (feral hogs), elk, and bison. Person-to-person transmission of brucellosis is rare but may occur during sex, blood transfusions, transplacental transfer, or even in contact with menstrual blood.
What are symptoms and signs of brucellosis?
Brucellosis can cause a wide range of symptoms. Some symptoms appear early while others may develop over a long time period. Initial or early symptoms may include
- pain in the muscles, joints, and/or abdomen,
- pain in the back,
- loss of appetite,
- weight loss,
- headache, and/or
- swollen lymph nodes.
Over time, the fevers may become recurrent with night sweats, joint pain may worsen, and organ swelling may occur in the heart, testicles, liver, and/or spleen, resulting in decreased functioning of these organs. Some people will develop a skin rash and/or micro-abscesses (subcutaneous granulomas) in the skin. In addition, patients may have chronic fatigue, depression, and neurologic symptoms. It takes about two to four weeks (latent period) after initial exposure for most people to start showing symptoms.