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Brucellosis is a zoonotic disease - an infection that we may contract from animals. It is rare in Canada.
The disease is caused by a bacterial pathogen called Brucella . Brucellosis is named after Dr. David Bruce, the British doctor who first found a link between the organism and the illness. Brucellosis has been known by many names, among them being Mediterranean fever, Malta fever, Bang's disease and undulant fever.

Information for Health Professionals

Brucellosis is a zoonotic disease (from animals) caused by bacteria belonging to the genus Brucella. Infection is caused by drinking or eating unpasteurized dairy products, or by coming into direct contact with the body fluids of an infected animal. It is not a common disease in Canada - with only 5 cases reported in BC in the last 10 years - but occurs often in the Mediterranean area, parts of Africa, Mexico and Central and South America.

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Profuse sweating
  • Chills
  • Weakness
  • Depression
  • Weight loss
  • General body aches
Infection of the spleen, liver and other organs can also occur. Incubation period is from 5 to 60 days
Brucellosis is caused by Brucella abortus (cattle), B. melitensis (sheep and goats), B. suis (pigs) and B. canis (dogs). Infection occurs when someone comes into contact with the body fluids of an infected animal (blood, placenta, urine, fetuses), by consumption of raw (unpasteurized) dairy products and in some instances, by airborne transmission of the pathogen in animal pens, laboratories and slaughter houses.

There is no substantial evidence to suggest person-to-person spread occurs.

Left untreated, the bones, joints, genital and urinary tracts may be affected. Also, arthritis may occur as a side effect. Case fatality rate for untreated brucellosis is about two per cent.

Diagnosis is made by identifying the microorganism in blood, tissues or discharges, or by identifying the antibodies in blood serum.

Brucellosis is treated with antibiotics. Your doctor will know which drugs to prescribe.  

In order to decrease the risk of Brucella infection:


  • Avoid consuming unpasteurized dairy products and raw meat at home or abroad.
  • When assisting in the birth of animals, wear gloves and be aware of the risk of inhaling bacteria.
  • Wear gloves when handling wild or domestic animal carcasses.
  • If you adopt or import a dog from another country, be aware of the risk of brucellosis. Take the animal to a veterinarian as soon as it arrives to be examined and tested.
  • Veterinary staff should wear protective equipment when working with animals that may be infected.

SOURCE: Brucellosis ( )
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