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What Is Brucellosis?

Can I Get Brucellosis From My Dog?

Dogs can become infected with B. canis. Some pet owners have developed brucellosis this way but the disease is usually mild. 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.

What Are the Risk Factors for Brucellosis?

In the U.S., brucellosis is more common in men. Men who become sick with the disease most often work or have worked around livestock. Brucellosis is uncommon in children.

You are more likely to get brucellosis if you:

  • Eat or drink unpasteurized dairy products from cows, goats, or other animals that are infected with the bacteria
  • Eat other unpasteurized cheeses called "village cheeses." These come from high-risk regions, including the Mediterranean
  • Travel to areas where Brucella is common
  • Work in a meat-processing plant or slaughterhouse
  • Work on a farm

Brucellosis has also been reported in:

  • Hunters in the U.S.
  • Veterinarians who have immunized cattle with the Brucella vaccine

What Are the Symptoms of Brucellosis?

General symptoms of brucellosis are often vague and similar to the flu. They may include:

  • Fever (the most common symptom, with high "spikes" that usually occur in the afternoon)
  • Back pain
  • Body-wide aches and pains
  • Poor appetite and weight loss
  • Headache
  • Night sweats
  • Weakness

Symptoms usually appear within five to 30 days after you come in contact with the bacteria. How bad your symptoms are depends on what type of Brucella is making you sick:

  • B. abortus usually causes mild or moderate symptoms, but they are more likely to become chronic (long-lasting).
  • B. canis symptoms may come and go. They are similar to B. abortus infection, although people with B. canis often have vomiting and diarrhea.
  • B. suis may cause areas of infection (called abscesses) in different organs.
  • B. melitensis may cause sudden and severe symptoms, which may lead to disability.

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