brucellosis (brōˌsəlōˈsĭs) [key] or Bang's disease, infectious disease of farm animals that is sometimes transmitted to humans. In humans the disease is also known as undulant fever, Mediterranean fever, or Malta fever. In susceptible animals, primarily cattle, swine, and goats, brucellosis causes infertility and death. The symptoms are spontaneous abortion and inability to conceive in females and inflammation of sex organs in male animals. Animal brucellosis is transmitted by contact or by such mechanical vectors as contaminated food, water, and excrement. The disease is caused by three species of Brucella bacteria, and the causative organism is present in aborted fetuses and uterine secretions; antibodies to the bacteria are present in the blood or milk, an important diagnostic factor. Measures for prevention and control of brucellosis include vaccination of calves, blood tests of adults, and slaughtering of infected animals. Human brucellosis is an occupational disease among farmers, slaughterhouse workers, and others who come in direct contact with infected animals or their products (raw meat or unpasteurized dairy products). The most prominent symptoms are weakness and intermittent fever. The disease persists for months if left untreated but is seldom fatal in humans. There is no effective vaccine for human brucellosis, and antibiotics are the usual treatment.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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