Ever since the raging COVID-19 pandemic shook nations worldwide, people are rather cautious of consuming non-vegetarian dishes, making sure to purchase fresh meat, seafood, as well as cleaning it thoroughly before cooking and eating. This is chiefly owing to the zoonotic nature of the coronavirus infection, implying the viral strain was transmitted from animals to humans, that was confirmed by scientists and researchers across the globe.
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In this regard, yet another zoonosis - a contagious illness with origins in animal species, that was even recently reported in a group of individuals in China, is brucellosis. A highly communicable ailment, brucellosis is triggered by infection from the microbial pathogen Brucella – a type of bacteria, from infested animal specimens, similar to listeria infection.

Also known as Malta fever, undulant fever and Mediterranean fever, brucellosis occurs in humans when they consume unpasteurized milk, butter, cheese, other dairy products and raw meat sourced from already infected cows, sheep, goats, cattle, livestock. It can also spread to people if they come in direct contact with air, animal blood or other body fluids contaminated with Brucella, like in the case of farmers, hunters, slaughterhouse workers, veterinary doctors and laboratory technicians.

Although not life-threatening in the majority of cases and entirely curable with antibiotics, brucellosis results in excessive fatigue, high fevers and physical discomfort, usually lasting for many weeks or even months, before the symptoms heal. A condition that can be totally prevented by steering clear of ingesting undercooked meat and raw dairy, it is nevertheless important to know the typical indications of brucellosis. This helps to diagnose the bacterial infection accurately and facilitate proper treatment, for the complete recovery of the person affected by brucellosis.


The characteristic signs associated with brucellosis are similar to that of other febrile illnesses, like salmonellosis, typhoid, leptospirosis, malaria and dengue. Yet, two particular defining features experienced by most individuals suffering from brucellosis are unbearable aching in muscles and night sweats.
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People with brucella infection tend to display prominent external symptoms such as:

  • Chills with high fever
  • Extreme levels of lethargy, exhaustion
  • Feeling of weakness all over the body
  • Reduced appetite
  • Headaches

With appropriate treatment, all these symptoms of brucellosis usually disappear, even though they prolong for several weeks or months together. At times, brucellosis infection can recur in the person, giving rise to lingering fatigue and fevers.


Since brucellosis spreads extensively within the human system, it can result in grave consequences, in circumstances of severe infection.

Chronic brucellosis can afflict numerous internal organs in the body, invariably prompting more inflammatory responses and illnesses. These consist of arthritis in the joints, enlargement of the spleen and liver, aside from swelling of the testicles in men, referred to as epididymo-orchitis. Furthermore, in rare situations, Brucella bacteria can infect the heart and brain, leading to dangerous conditions of endocarditis, meningitis.

Diagnosis And Treatment

The doctor initially examines a sample of blood or bone marrow of the patient, to look for the presence of Brucella bacteria, or probes for any complementary antibodies to the pathogen, in blood.

In addition, the physician determines complications in other organs in the body, through X-ray tests of the bones, joints, CT, MRI imaging scans of the brain and echocardiography of the heart.

Due to the reason that the external symptoms of brucellosis often resemble other conditions like flu during the initial phases of the disease, diagnosing the bacterial infection early on can be a bit challenging. It is always advised to consult with a healthcare provider as soon as an individual encounters warning signals of continuing fevers, muscle pain, incessant sweating at night and body weakness.


Following some simple preventive measures is the best way to avoid brucellosis infection, especially since it can endure for weeks or months at a stretch.

Avoiding eating any unpasteurized dairy products including milk, butter, cheese, as well as cooking all meat, poultry foods thoroughly to destroy all residing bacteria, assists in averting brucellosis to a great extent, in most people.

Additionally, when working in high-risk occupations that involve handling bacteria or animals directly, such as in farming, veterinarian jobs and microbiology research labs, wearing gloves and donning necessary protective equipment at all times keeps infection at bay.