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What is it?

Brucellosis is a bacterial disease that may affect various organs of the body.

How does it spread?

Brucellosis occurs most often in people who work with livestock or in slaughterhouses, or who consume unpasteurized dairy products.  

What are the signs and symptoms?

Symptoms of brucellosis usually appear within 60 days and may include:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Weakness
  • Profuse sweating
  • Chills
  • Joint pain
  • Depression
  • Weight loss
  • Generalized aching
  • Fatigue

The disease may last days, months or occasionally a year or more if not adequately treated. The symptoms may come and go.

How is it treated?

Brucellosis is treated with a combination of antibiotics

Is brucellosis contagious?

Brucella rarely spreads person-to-personBrucella bacteria are most commonly found in cows, pigs, goats, sheep, dogs, bison elk, caribou and some types of deer. The bacteria can be passed to people in many ways:

  • Through direct contact, if you have a break in your skin, and it comes in contact with an infected animal’s tissue, blood, urine, vaginal discharge, aborted fetus, or placenta.
  • Through ingesting unpasteurized milk and dairy products from infected animals
  • Through airborne transmission, this can be a possibility for people working in labs and slaughterhouses.

How can it be prevented?

  • Brucellosis can be prevented through the following measures:
  • Wash hands thoroughly after touching animals
  • Avoid unpasteurized milk and milk products
  • Handle carcasses and products of potentially infected animals with care
  • Exercise care in handling and disposal of placenta, discharges and fetus from an aborted animal
  • Disinfect contaminated areas
  • Ensure proper ventilation in slaughterhouses, meat processing plants and butcher shops
  • When hunting, use gloves and protective clothing when dressing animals and bury the remains properly. Hunters can protect themselves from brucellosis

Health Care Providers

Suspected cases are reportable to the Health Unit immediately by telephone.