DEFINITION--A rare bacterial infection transmitted to humans from infected cows,
pigs, sheep or goats. It is not contagious from person to person. The disease has an acute
form (symptoms appear suddenly) and a chronic form (symptoms appear gradually).
BODY PARTS INVOLVED--Blood-producing organs, including bone marrow, lymph
glands, liver and spleen.
SEX OR AGE MOST AFFECTED--Both sexes and all ages, but most common in men
between ages 20 and 60.
SIGNS & SYMPTOMS--
- Chills, intermittent fever, sweating.
- Marked fatigue.
- Tenderness along the spine.
- Enlarged lymph glands. Chronic form:
- Muscle pain.
- Weight loss.
- Sexual impotence.
- Abscesses in the ovaries, kidney and brain (rare).
CAUSES--Infection from the bacteria, Brucella, which is transmitted to humans
through unpasteurized milk or milk products (butter, cheese) or meat products.
RISK INCREASES WITH
- Pernicious anemia or previous stomach surgery. These conditions result in reduced
stomach acid; stomach acid decreases the chance of infection.
- Persons with occupations involving animals, such as farmers, butchers, veterinarians or
- Travel to some foreign countries.
HOW TO PREVENT
- Don't drink unpasteurized milk from any source.
- Use gloves and aprons when working around animals.
- Immunization of livestock.
What To Expect
- Your own observation of symptoms.
- Medical history and physical exam by a doctor.
- Laboratory blood studies.
APPROPRIATE HEALTH CARE
- Doctor's treatment.
- Self-care after treatment of the acute phase.
- Heart, bone, brain or liver infection (rare).
- Chronic illness and disability from inadequate treatment and care.
PROBABLE OUTCOME--Usually curable in 3 to 4 weeks with treatment.
How To Treat
- It usually is not necessary to isolate the ill person.
- All family members who may have been exposed to the same infected milk products should
have medical checkups and diagnostic tests.
MEDICATION--Your doctor may prescribe:
- Antibiotics to fight infection, such as tetracycline, for a minimum of 3 weeks.
- Cortisone drugs to reduce the inflammatory response in severe cases.
- Pain relievers for muscle pain.
ACTIVITY--Rest in bed until fever and other symptoms subside. Resume your normal
DIET--No special diet. Increase calories if weight loss has been significant.
Call Your Doctor If
- You have symptoms of undulant fever.
- Fever or other symptoms recur after treatment.