Brucellosis is an infectious disease caused by a type of bacteria called Brucella. The bacteria spread from animals to humans.
There are several different strains of Brucella bacteria. Some types are seen in cows. Others occur in dogs, pigs, sheep, goats, and camels. Recently, scientists have seen new strains in the red fox and certain marine animals, including seals.
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Brucellosis is rare in the U.S. because of effective animal disease control programs. Fewer than 200 people get sick with the disease each year in the U.S. It is most often seen in the spring and summer months in:
Brucellosis is considered a significant health threat in other parts of the world. The disease has been reported in more than a half-million people each year in 100 countries, according to the World Health Organization.
What Causes Brucellosis?
Brucellosis in humans occurs when a person comes into contact with an animal or animal product infected with the Brucella bacteria.
Rarely, the bacteria may spread from person to person. Breastfeeding moms with brucellosis may pass the bacteria to their baby. Brucella may also be spread through sexual contact.
When you eat or drink something contaminated with the bacteria
Four types of Brucella bacteria are known to cause brucellosis in humans:
B. melitensis. This type causes most cases of brucellosis. It is most often seen in:
Persian Gulf region
B. suis. This is the most common type of Brucella seen in the U.S. It is carried by pigs. Brucellosis due to this strain most often occurs in the Midwest. It also occurs in South America and Southeast Asia.
B. canis. The infection from this type of bacteria spreads from dogs. It is most often seen in:
B. abortus. This infection comes from cattle. It occurs worldwide. It has been wiped out in several European countries, Japan, and Israel.
Can I Get Brucellosis From My Dog?
Dogs can become infected with B. canis. Some pet owners have developed brucellosis this way. There is at least one known case of brucellosis spreading to a human by a dog bite. But spreading brucellosis this way is uncommon. Most dogs infected with Brucella do NOT spread the bacteria to their owners.
You are more likely to get brucellosis from an infected dog if you come in contact with blood or other fluids from the animal. Veterinarians have an increased risk of brucellosis.
If you have a weakened immune system due to medications or certain diseases, you should not touch dogs that are infected with Brucella.