Also known as undulant fever, or Malta fever.
Causes In Malta and the Mediterranean littoral, the causative organism is the bacterium Brucella melitensis which is conveyed in goat’s milk. In Great Britain, the US and South Africa, the causative organism is the Brucella abortus, which is conveyed in cow’s milk: this is the organism which is responsible for contagious abortion in cattle. In Great Britain brucellosis is largely an occupational disease and is now prescribed as an industrial disease (see OCCUPATIONAL DISEASES), and insured persons who contract the disease at work can claim industrial injuries beneﬁt. The incidence of brucellosis in the UK has fallen from more than 300 cases a year in 1970 to single ﬁgures.
Symptoms The characteristic features of the disease are undulating fever, drenching sweats, pains in the joints and back, and headache. The liver and spleen may be enlarged. The diagnosis is conﬁrmed by the ﬁnding of Br. abortus, or antibodies to it, in the blood. Recovery and convalescence tend to be slow.
Treatment The condition responds well to one of the tetracycline antibiotics, and also to gentamicin and co-trimoxazole, but relapse is common. In chronic cases a combination of streptomycin and one of the tetracyclines is often more eﬀective.
Prevention It can be prevented by boiling or pasteurising all milk used for human consumption. In Scandinavia, the Netherlands, Switzerland and Canada the disease has disappeared following its eradication in animals. Brucellosis has been eradicated from farm animals in the United Kingdom.