Brucella in Palestine, Greece, Tunisia, and More: Newest Research on This Bioterror Zoonotic Disease | Pathogen of the Month

PATHOGEN OF THE MONTH

written by Chandana Balasubramanian

The Brucella species of gram-negative bacteria has an interesting past. The infection caused by Brucella — Brucellosis — is one of the most widespread zoonotic diseases and has been around for centuries. Brucella was even found in a 700-year-old skeleton from Italy [1]! The discovery that Brucella can be carried and transmitted through healthy goats is considered one of the “greatest advancements ever made in the study of epidemiology.” This medical milestone revolutionized the way the world understood diseases transmitted through animals and helped save British troops from getting infected [2].

The disease has many names, including Malta Fever, Gibraltar Fever, Rock Fever (after the Rock of Gibraltar), Cyprus Fever, Neapolitan Fever, Crimean Fever, and Goat Fever [3]. It is also often called ‘Bang’s Disease’ after the Danish veterinarian who isolated it — Bernhard Lauritz Frederik Bang. Another nickname for Brucellosis is Corp’s Disease since the British Royal Army Medical Corps played a significant role in discovering how it spreads. The Brucella pathogen itself is named after Sir David Bruce, the British military physician who first described it [4].

Unfortunately, Brucellosis is among the top “neglected zoonotic diseases” by the World Health Organization (WHO). Diseases in this category often affect poor and marginalized communities and populations without adequate resources. It is found predominantly in the Mediterranean region, but Brucella outbreaks in China have also been reported. Brucellosis has been largely eliminated from the developed world, which may be why it has not gotten the research and attention it needs.

The good news is that there has been a greater focus and much-needed research on the Brucella bacteria in recent years. This includes epidemiology, diagnostic methods, treatment, preventive control measures, and much more. Many of these researchers continue to leverage the comprehensive GIDEON infectious disease database for data on worldwide and country-specific prevalence, incidence, and mortality rates over time.

It is important to monitor and curb Brucella outbreaks

The most common way to get Brucellosis from animals is by eating raw or unpasteurized dairy products. It can also be spread through the air. Touching the body fluids of an infected animal can also transmit the infection to humans.

Brucellosis cannot be transmitted from person to person like a cold virus. However, it can spread easily in the air, and many people can get infected at the same time [5]. When aerosolized, it can also cause widespread harm as a bioterror agent.

The Brucella species of bacteria are, in fact, a perfect storm of a bioterror threat because they are easy to grow, store, transfer, and circulate. When Brucella is aerosolized and released, it can cause serious health issues, even though the human mortality rate is low [6].

Symptoms of Brucellosis in Humans

Brucellosis, the infection caused by the Brucella bacteria, causes fever, chills, fatigue, sweats, joint pain, and headaches. The mortality rate is low. The incubation period is, on average, 2–4 weeks.

It is essential to keep an eye out for recurrence because Brucellosis symptoms can even vanish and return after a few weeks or months. Some people end up with Chronic Brucellosis that can last years.

In animals, Brucella can cause reproductive issues leading to abortions. As a result, there is an economic loss for farmers and cattle herds who may have to cull many infected animals. They are also at risk of getting infected if proper safety protocols for handling animals are not followed [7].

Because Brucella infections can cause widespread problems for humans and livestock and is a potential biothreat, the worlds of epidemiology and public health welcome the latest studies on this issue.

The Latest Research On Brucella

1. Brucella in Palestine

2. Brucella in Tunisia 3. Brucella in Greece

Katsiolis et al. (preprint, 2021) published about the detection of Brucellosis in ruminant herds in Greece. The researchers emphasize the economic significance of their study apart from health concerns. Brucellosis can cause reproductive issues in animals and abortions in herds. Along with other European countries, Greece had also applied control and eradication programs for sheep, goats, and cows. Since current laboratory Brucella detection methods have several challenges, the study proposes a new diagnostic tool for greater reliability to detect Brucella from samples [10].

4. Brucella in Kazakhstan

Nicolaevna Gavrilova et al. from Kazakhstan (August 2021) studied the effect of a Lactobacillus-based probiotic to help prevent Brucella outbreaks. The researchers used information from GIDEON about how Brucella affects humans as part of their discussion on important it is to curtail the periodic epizootic outbreaks that occur in hot spots. The study concluded in favor of using probiotics for prophylactic and therapeutic reasons to reduce bacterial load in infected mice [11].

5. Brucella in Costa Rica 6. Brucella study from Ethiopia

Rosales Galeano et al. (2019) reviewed the epidemiology, diagnosis, control, and prevention of Brucellosis. The authors discuss how Brucella was first identified, isolated, and eliminated in developed countries. The article discusses how developing countries must implement similar stringent methods of animal immunization, farm sanitation, and more [13].

7. Brucella in Armenia

Please note, while this list is a curated list of some significant research, it is not comprehensive. Here are more studies for further reading:

Conclusion

Eliminating Brucellosis from the developing world requires collaboration, awareness-building, and education among communities that work closely with animals. Since Brucellosis often presents with flu-like symptoms, frontline clinicians in high and moderate risk regions must test for Brucellosis to account for potential cognitive biases.

Additionally, public health officials worldwide must implement rigorous Brucella control programs and encourage more studies on Brucellosis to help identify and protect vulnerable populations.

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References

GIDEON Informatics , “GIDEON Infectious Diseases Database”.

CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), “Brucellosis,” CDC, 20 02 2021. [Online]. Available: https://www.cdc.gov/Brucellosis/index.html. [Accessed 28 10 2021].

Originally published at https://www.gideononline.com.

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