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Symptoms and Signs of Brucellosis

Doctor's Notes on Brucellosis

Brucellosis is an infectious disease that affects mainly animals, including goats, sheep, camels, pigs, elk, deer, cattle, and dogs and is caused by bacteria from the genus Brucella. Humans develop brucellosis when they come in contact with contaminated animals or animal products, most commonly from the ingestion of raw milk or cheese. Brucellosis is diagnosed by blood tests and by isolating the organism from blood and other body tissues.

Symptoms of brucellosis may develop from days to months after initial exposure and often resemble a flu-like illness and may include fever (this is the most common symptom, and it may be come and go), sweating, body aches, joint pain, fatigue, weakness, dizziness, headache, depression, irritability, loss of appetite, weight loss, cough, difficulty breathing, chest pain, abdominal pain, and enlarged liver and/or spleen.

Medical Author: John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP
Medically Reviewed on 3/11/2019

Brucellosis Symptoms

The symptoms and signs of brucellosis may develop from days to months after the initial exposure to the organism (incubation period). While some individuals may develop mild symptoms, others may go on to develop long-term chronic symptoms.

The signs and symptoms of brucellosis are extensive and they can be similar to many other febrile illnesses. They include

Other symptoms and signs may also be present with brucellosis. Certain variables such as the severity of illness, the chronicity of illness, and the development of complications can all impact the clinical findings associated with the disease.

Brucellosis Causes

  • Brucellosis is a systemic infectious disease transmitted from certain animals to humans (zoonotic disease).
  • Brucellosis in humans is predominantly caused by four different species of Brucella bacteria: Brucella melitensis (goats, sheep, camels), Brucella suis (pigs), Brucella abortus (cows, buffalo, elk, camels, yaks), and Brucella canis (dogs).
  • Though all of these species can cause human brucellosis, Brucella melitensis is the most prevalent worldwide, and it is felt to cause the most severe cases of brucellosis.

Uncommon and Common Food-Poisoning Dangers in Pictures Slideshow

Uncommon and Common Food-Poisoning Dangers in Pictures Slideshow

Listeria bacteria can contaminate fresh produce, like cantaloupes, as well as some processed foods, like cheeses. Symptoms of infection include fever, muscle aches, upset stomach, or diarrhea -- occurring 2 days to 2 months after exposure.

Safety: Scrub raw produce and dry before cutting. Store in fridge below 40 F. Clean everything in contact with a whole melon.


Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.