Brucellosis is an infectious disease caused by bacteria. It is a reportable condition in Texas. People can get the disease when they are in contact with infected animals or animal products, including raw milk, contaminated with the bacteria. Animals that are most commonly infected include sheep, cattle, goats, and pigs, among others.
Initial symptoms can include fever, sweats, malaise, anorexia, headache, pain in muscles, joint, and/or back, and 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, inflammation of the heart (endocarditis), neurologic symptoms (in up to 5% of all cases), chronic fatigue, depression, and swelling of the liver and spleen. Brucellosis in pregnancy is associated with risk of adverse pregnancy outcomes such as premature delivery, miscarriage, and intrauterine infection with fetal death. Neonatal infection may occur through transplacental transmission during a maternal bacteremic phase, from exposure to blood, urine, or vaginal secretions during delivery, or through breastfeeding.
Laboratory diagnosis of Brucellosis involves testing to look for bacteria in samples of blood, bone marrow, or other body fluids.
Treatment consists of combination antibiotic therapy. Depending on the timing of treatment and severity of illness, recovery may take a few weeks to several months. Death from brucellosis is rare, occurring in no more than 2% of all cases.
Raw milk is milk from cows or other animals that has not been pasteurized to kill harmful bacteria. This raw, unpasteurized milk can carry dangerous bacteria such as Brucella, Listeria, Salmonella, E. coli, and Campylobacter, which are responsible for causing numerous foodborne illnesses and outbreaks.
The Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) recommends that people drink and eat only pasteurized dairy products (including soft cheese, ice cream, and yogurt).
- Pasteurization is the process of heating milk to a high enough temperature for a long enough time to kill dangerous bacteria.
- This is especially important for people at higher risk for foodborne illness: children younger than 5, pregnant women, adults 65 and older, and people with weakened immune systems.
- However, healthy people of any age can get very sick or even die if they drink raw milk contaminated with harmful germs.
To learn more about Brucellosis, please visit the The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website: