Brucellosis is an infectious disease caused by a type of bacteria called Brucella. The bacteria can 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. Brucella in animals cannot be cured.


Several types of Brucella bacteria cause brucellosis, including B. abortus, B. canis, B. meliensis and B. suis. Animals carry Brucella, including:

  • Cattle
  • Goats
  • Pigs
  • Deer
  • Moose
  • Elk
  • Sheep
  • Dogs
  • Camels

Signs and Symptoms

Brucellosis can cause a range of signs and symptoms, some of which may present for prolonged periods of time.

Initial symptoms can include:

  • fever
  • sweats
  • malaise
  • anorexia
  • headache
  • pain in muscles, joint, and/or back
  • fatigue

Some signs and symptoms may persist for longer periods of time. Others may never go away or reoccur. These can include:

  • recurrent fevers
  • arthritis
  • swelling of the testicle and scrotum area
  • swelling of the heart (endocarditis)
  • neurologic symptoms (in up to 5% of all cases)
  • chronic fatigue
  • depression
  • swelling of the liver and/or spleen


Doctors usually confirm a diagnosis of brucellosis by testing blood or bone marrow for the brucella bacteria or by testing blood for antibodies to the bacteria. To help detect complications of brucellosis, your doctor may order additional tests, including:

X-rays: X-rays can reveal changes in your bones and joints.

Computerized tomography (CT) scan or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI): These imaging tests help identify inflammation or abscesses in the brain or other tissues.

Cerebrospinal fluid culture: This checks a small sample of the fluid that surrounds your brain and spinal cord for infections such as meningitis and encephalitis.

Echocardiography: This test uses sound waves to create images of your heart to check for signs of infection or damage to your heart.

Note 1: Culture, serologic testing, or both must confirm the initial diagnosis and recurrence of active infection.

Note 2: Rate under the appropriate body system any residual disability of infection, which includes, but is not limited to, meningitis, liver, spleen and musculoskeletal conditions.

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