Domesticated animals are perilous when they develop brucellosis. The prevention is exacting and treatment is cumbersome. Read on for more.
Brucellosis is an infectious disease that originates in animals and further attacks human beings. It is so named because the causative agent is a bacterium of the kind Brucella. It is usually seen to affect domestic animals like dogs, goats, cattle, and pigs. The disease is omnipresent and generally widespread in developing nations. In the 19th century, it was called Malta fever or Mediterranean fever. From the 20th century, it was referred to as undulant fever. The reason was that the fever falls and rises over some weeks in untreated patients.
Brucellosis in Cattle
Cattle fall prey to this disease due to the bacteria Brucella abortus. Presence of these bacteria can lead to abortions, arthritis, or weak progeny. Abortions occur due to two reasons – infections in the placenta and fetus or absence of anti-brucella activity in the amniotic fluid. In males, these bacteria are found in the reproductive system. The Brucella milk ring test is carried out to separate the infected animals. Those which are infected are usually killed. Veterinary doctors should vaccinate the young cattle to bring the situation under control.
Brucellosis in Dogs
Brucella canis are the bacteria that are found in dogs. They propagate due to breeding and contact with aborted fetuses. Generally, the lymphatic system and the genitals are affected. However, the kidney, eye, and intervertebral disc may also suffer. In females, abortion takes place. In males, the testicles and scrotum are inflamed. Both males and females contract fever. Blood testing is done, before the breeding season begins, to minimize the spread of this disease.
Spread of the Disease in Humans
- Consumption of untreated or contaminated milk and its derived products
- Direct contact with infected goats, sheep, bison, cattle, camels, pigs, and dogs wherein the bacteria can penetrate through normal human skin
- Direct contact with carcasses of above animals
Similar to other feverish diseases, the symptoms are:
- Fluctuating fever
- Sweating with an odor similar to wet hay
- Muscular and body pain
- Headache and anorexia
- Weakness and depression
These may last for some weeks or years. In the first stage, septicemia, migratory arthralgia, and myalgia occur. Blood tests reveal anemia, leukopenia and raise of AST and ALT. In the absence of treatment, brucellosis becomes chronic or causes focalizations in joints and/or bones or spondylodiscitis of lumbar spine.
Detection of this disease depends on various factors like:
- Blood culture in tryptose broth and bone marrow cultures – the brucellae are highly infective and the laboratory personnel must be on the alert
- Classic Huddleston, Bengal Rose, and/or Wright reactions – ELISA or 2-mercaptoethanol assay is used for IgM antibodies
- Osteophytosis or degradation of anterior-superior corner of lumbar vertebrae
- Granulomatous hepatitis
Following antibiotics have been proved to be effective
These should be prescribed for many weeks due to the incubation of bacteria in the cells. For adults, the gold standard treatment is prescribed. It includes:
- Intramuscular injections of streptomycin – daily 1 g for 14 days
- Oral dose of doxycycline – daily 100 mg twice for 45 days
- If streptomycin is unavailable, then intramuscular injection of gentamicin 5 mg/kg – daily once for 7 days
- Alternatively, oral dose of doxycycline and rifampin – daily twice for minimum 6 weeks
There are a few ways to prevent brucellosis:
- Pasteurizing all the milk (pure form or derived form like cheese) that is consumed by human beings
- Observing cleanliness in production of raw milk products