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Brucellosis

(Undulant Fever; Bang’s Disease; Malta Fever)

Definition

Brucellosis is a rare bacterial disease that causes fevers that come and go.

Causes

Brucellosis is caused by specific bacteria that infects domesticated animals. It can be spread to humans through:

Risk Factors

Factors that increase your risk of getting brucellosis include:

Symptoms

Symptoms of brucellosis usually appear within 2 weeks of infection. Symptoms can appear from 5 days to several months after infection.
In the early stage, symptoms may include:
As it progresses, brucellosis causes a high fever (104° F to 105° F). This fever occurs in the evening along with severe sweating. It becomes normal or near normal in the morning, and usually begins again at night.
This on and off fever usually lasts 1 to 5 weeks. After 5 weeks, symptoms usually improve or disappear for 2 days to 2 weeks. Then, the fever returns. In some patients, this fever returns only once. In others, the disease becomes chronic, and the fever returns, lessens, and then returns again over months or years.
In later stages, brucellosis can cause:
Patients usually recover within 2 to 5 weeks. Rarely, complications can develop. These may include:
Endocarditis
Bacterial endocarditis, aortic valve
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Brucellosis is also believed to cause a high rate of miscarriage during early pregnancy in infected women.

Diagnosis

You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.
Your body fluids may need to be tested. This can be done with:
Pictures may be needed of your body structures. This can be done with:

Treatment

Many people recover from brucellosis on their own. However, early diagnosis and treatment can reduce the risk of complications and infection. Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Treatment options include:

Antibiotics

Your doctor may prescribe one or more antibiotics to control and prevent brucellosis. Antibiotics are given for up to 6 weeks.

Surgery

Surgery may be needed in people with abscesses or an infection that does not respond to antibiotics.

Prevention

To help reduce your chances of getting brucellosis, take the following steps:

RESOURCES

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention http://www.cdc.gov

United States Department of Agriculture http://www.usda.gov

CANADIAN RESOURCES

Health Canada http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca

Public Health Agency of Canada http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca

References

Brucellosis. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/brucellosis. Updated November 12, 2012. Accessed June 9, 2015.

Brucellosis. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated March 14, 2015. Accessed June 9, 2015.

Patel PJ, Kolawole TM, et al. Sonographic findings in scrotal brucellosis. J Clin Ultrasound. 1988;16:483-486.

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