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What Is Brucellosis?

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How Is Brucellosis Diagnosed?

Your doctor will examine you. You may have:

  • A swollen liver
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • A swollen spleen
  • Unexplained fever

Blood tests will be done to diagnose the infection and determine what type of Brucella is making you sick. Proper identification of the bacteria helps pinpoint the source of the infection.

How Is Brucellosis Treated?

Brucellosis can be difficult to treat. If you have brucellosis, your doctor will prescribe antibiotics. Antibiotics commonly used to treat brucellosis include:

  • tetracycline
  • streptomycin
  • doxycycline
  • rifampin

You will be given more than one kind of antibiotic.

You must take the antibiotics for many weeks to prevent the disease from returning.

Recovery can take weeks, even months. Patients who receive treatment within one month of the start of symptoms can be cured of the disease.

What Are the Complications of Brucellosis?

Severe brucellosis may cause:

  • Infection of the central nervous system
  • Endocarditis (infection of the lining of the heart or valves)
  • Liver abscess

Brucellosis can cause long-lasting symptoms that are similar to chronic fatigue syndrome. The symptoms can lead to disability. They may include:

  • Fatigue
  • Fevers that come and go
  • Joint pain

Brucellosis in a pregnant woman may lead to:

  • Miscarriage
  • Birth defects in the baby

Death from brucellosis is uncommon. Most brucellosis-related deaths are due to endocarditis.

How Can I Prevent Brucellosis?

Brucellosis may be prevented with the following steps:

  • Do not drink or eat unpasteurized dairy products.
  • Wear rubber gloves if you work in the animal processing industry.

If you have come in contact with an animal infected with Brucella, tell your health care provider -- even if you do not have symptoms. You will need to be monitored for at least six months. There is no effective human vaccine to prevent brucellosis.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Scott Keller, MD on March 30, 2014
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