Back to Infectious Diseases
Brucellosis (Malta fever, Undulant fever).
Brucellosis is transmitted to humans from infected animals. Its clinical
features are not disease specific. Brucellosis has many synonyms derived
from the geographical regions in which the disease occurs (e.g., Mediterranean
fever, Malta fever, Gibraltar fever, Cyprus fever); from the remittent
character of its fever (e.g., undulant fever); or from its resemblance
to malaria and typhoid (e.g., typhomalarial fever, intermittent typhoid).
Humans are commonly infected with the brucella organism through ingestion
of contaminated milk or dairy products.
Are you a doctor or a nurse?
Do you want to join the Doctors Lounge online medical community?
Participate in editorial activities (publish, peer review, edit) and
give a helping hand to the largest online community of patients.
Click on the link below to see the requirements:
Doctors Lounge Membership
2 types: acute & chronic.
The disease spreads into the blood after ingestion and absorption from
the gut. It reaches the lymph system and spleen which enlarge in an attempt
to stop further progression of the disease. During this reaction the patient
starts to experience the characteristic bouts of fever.
The disease is not usually fatal, but the intermittent fevers (a source
of its nickname, "undulant fever") can be exhausting. The patient maybe
febrile for 4 months before remitting to develop fever one month later.
Symptoms usually appear between five days and a month after exposure and
begin with a single bout of high fever accompanied by shivering, aching,
and drenching sweats that last for a few days. Other symptoms may include
headache, poor appetite, backache, weakness, and depression. Mental depression
can be so severe that the patient may become suicidal.
In rare, untreated cases, the disease can become so severe that it
leads to fatal complications, such as pneumonia or bacterial meningitis.
B. melitensis can cause miscarriages, especially during the first
three months of pregnancy. The condition can also occur in a chronic form,
in which symptoms recur over a period of months or years.
Immunological manifestations may develop such as
osteomyelitis (spinal tenderness), and arthritis.
If above fever persists for months.
Brucella agglutination test and other blood and urine
tests can identify the organism.
A combination antibiotic therapy, such as doxycycline and rifampin
or an aminoglycoside, is recommended to treat and prevent relapse of infection.
Longer courses of therapy may be required for complications.