Health for humans, animals & plants


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Human Animal

Brucella, the causative agent of brucellosis, are so-called zoonotic pathogens, i.e. they can be transmitted to humans from animals or via food.

Brucella are bacteria. The species Brucella melitensis and Brucella abortus are found in domestic and farm animals worldwide with regional differences. Brucella abortus occurs in cattle, Brucella melitensis is mainly found in sheep and goats in Mediterranean countries.

Transmission to humans usually occurs through food containing Brucella(raw milk and products made from it) or through direct contact with infected animals and their faeces. In humans, the infectious disease caused by B. melitensis is known as Malta fever, while B . abortus causes Bang's disease (Bang's disease).

Up to 90 % of all infections are asymptomatic. In the initial phase of the disease called acute brucellosis, there are non-specific, flu-like symptoms such as tiredness, slight fever, headache and aching limbs. After a short, symptom-free interval, flu-like symptoms can occur, often with evening temperature rises of up to 40 °C, combined with profuse sweating, but in the morning the temperature drops back to normal. The disease can heal spontaneously without antibiotic treatment, but without therapy it can also lead to a chronic course with recurring bouts of fever.

In Austria, the risk of infection in humans is very low. This is due to the monitoring and control programmes that have been in place for many years. The cattle population has been officially recognised as free of B. abortus since 1999, while the sheep and goat populations have been officially recognised as free of B. melitensis since 2001. To this end, our experts at the National Reference Laboratory and Centre for Brucellosis test thousands of milk and blood samples from cattle, sheep and goats for brucella every year.

Pathogens from A to Z: Brucellosis

| 2 min read
Human Animal

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