Frequently asked questions

Q1. What is Brucellosis?
Ans. Brucellosis is an infectious disease of animals and humans caused by bacteria of the genus Brucella.

Q2. What are the other names for Brucellosis?
Ans. Brucellosis has been variously described as Bang's disease, Crimean fever, Gibraltar fever, Malta fever, Mediterranean fever, rock fever, or undulant fever.

Q3. Is brucellosis communicable to humans?
Ans. Yes. Brucellosis ranks as the world’s most common zoonosis (an infection that is passed from animals to humans).  Humans may acquire the disease through contact with infected animals or their products thereof- contaminated with the bacteria. 

Q4. What are the signs and symptoms of Brucellosis in humans?
Ans. The disease in humans is characterized by initial symptoms like fever, anorexia, sweating, malaise, headache, pain in muscles and joints. Chronic disease may result in repeated fever bouts, chronic fatigue, neurological symptoms, arthritis and swelling of liver, spleen, heart, testicle and scrotum areas. 

Q5. Amongst humans, who are most at risk?
Ans. Brucellosis is an occupational hazard associated with slaughterhouse workers, meat-packing employees, veterinarians, laboratory workers and hunters. Humans imbibing unpasteurized dairy products or raw meat/inadequately cooked meat may also be at risk.

Q6. Where is the disease endemic?
Ans. Brucellosis is distributed throughout the world with specific areas like Asia, Africa, The Mediterranean basin, Mexico, South and Central America, and Eastern Europe being endemic for the disease.  

Q7. Is Brucellosis treatable?
Ans. Yes. Brucellosis is treatable with suitable antibiotics.

Q8. What are the host animals for various Brucella species?
Ans. The most common host(s) for B. abortus is cattle; for B. melitensis are goats, sheep, camels; for B. suis is pigs, for B. canis is dogs, for B. ovis are sheep, goats; for B. neotomae is wood rats, for B. pinnipediae are seals, sea lions, walruses; for B. ceti are dolphins, porpoises, whales and for B. microti is the common vole.

Q9. What are the clinical signs associated with bovine Brucellosis?
Ans. Clinically, one or more of the following symptoms may manifest themselves: abortion, retained placenta, orchitis, epididymitis and, occasionally, arthritis. The bacteria are shed in uterine discharges and in milk.

Q10.  How is bovine Brucellosis diagnosed?
Ans. It may be unequivocally diagnosed by isolation of Brucella from abortion material, udder discharge or tissues at post-mortem. Culture of brucellae may take up to two months.  Specific cell-mediated and serological responses to Brucella antigens may aid in presumptive diagnosis.

Q11. Are vaccines against Brucella available?
Ans. Yes. The B. abortus RB51 and Brucella abortus S19 strains are used for vaccinating cattle and B. melitensis Rev-1 for sheep and goats.