Brucellosis is transmitted to humans from sheep and goats (B. melitensis),
cattle (B. abortus) and pigs (B. suis), through direct or indirect
contact with infected animals.
The disease has largely been eradicated from northern European animal populations
(although occasional sporadic outbreaks still occur), with most cases being acquired
abroad. Those occupationally exposed to infected animals, i.e. farmers, veterinarians,
slaughterhouse workers are at greatest risk as well as consumers of unpasteurised
milk (Brucella spp. are killed by pasteurisation) and some fresh unpasteurised
cheese. No person-to-person transmission occurs (except between mother and child).
Cases are rare in the UK.
Main clinical features
These can be variable, but the “classic” presentation (about 50% of
cases) involves acute, often severe, fever and general malaise sometimes associated
with a cough and/or joint and/or testicular pain. However, Brucellosis may affect
several organs and tissues. Recovery may occur spontaneously, but may be followed
by long-lasting or recurrent episodes of ill-defined malaise.
Between 5 and 60 days, although presentation of the chronic form may take very much
Voluntary laboratory reports.
Annual Surveillance Tables