A good meal consisting of healthy food such as vegetables, fruits and proteins without a doubt nourishes the body and the mind. Food fuels the human body and enables the body to function from nutrients obtained from eating. We may have been concerned about what food we eat in terms of its nutrient’s contents but how about its safety and hygiene? Failure to pay attention to food safety and cleanliness usually leads to food consumed being the reason for sickness. There are many diseases caused by food that is eaten in unhygienic manners and need medicine intervention. One of them is brucellosis.
Brucellosis or Malta fever is a disease caused by bacteria called Brucella species. Common species that have been found to cause occasional infections are Brucella melitensis, Brucella abortus, Brucella canis and Brucella suis. These bacteria are commonly found in livestock animals such as cattle, cow, swine, sheep, chicken and goat. Humans typically acquire this disease through direct contact with infected animals and eating or drinking contaminated animal products. At times, other animals such as horses and dogs may have been infected by the bacteria and humans may still catch the disease from being in contact with these animals.
Human can get affected by brucellosis in numerous ways. Most common one is eating or drinking food sourced from animals contaminated by the bacteria. This is especially true when drinking milk that has not been pasteurised or consumption of dairy products such as cheese made with milk in such a manner or milk from infected goat, sheep or cow. Although most cases revolve around raw milk and its derivatives sourcing from infected animals, eating raw meat or undercooked meat may have risk of catching brucellosis. Beside consumption of food or drinks, the bacteria can affect a person when it is in contact with an exposed wound. The bacteria usually exist in the animal excretions or fluids coming from an infected animal. An exposed wound is an entrance for many infections including brucellosis. A person may get brucellosis simply from inhaling air contaminated by the bacteria. This is common among those working closely with animals such as farmers, livestock producers, veterinarian, slaughterhouse and meatpackers.
Symptoms of brucellosis may not be easily extinguished with other infections. There are 2 symptoms typical of brucellosis:
1) Flu-like symptoms- This includes loss of appetite, fever, chills, severe headaches, joint pain with or without back pain and fatigue. These symptoms may happen simultaneously or only certain symptoms may exhibit. Symptoms may appear in 1 or 2 days after exposure to the bacteria but may also occur gradually after a few weeks upon first contact with the infected animals or products made from the animals.
2) Emotional distress- Depression and mental inattention is often associated with brucellosis.
Apart from initial symptoms of the flu-like symptoms and emotional distress, brucellosis can affect humans in more extensive ways. When the bacteria enter the human body, the bacteria migrate to the intestine before being transported to the lymphatic system. Once it reaches the lymphatic system, the bacteria multiply or replicate. Some even occur in the liver, spleen, kidney, joints or breast tissues. Ultimately, the body’s immune system is triggered and causes many discomforting symptoms. Even though patients with brucellosis recover in 2 to 3 weeks’ time even without treatments, it is best to get treatment by getting diagnosed by doctors and following the treatment course. Currently, there are no vaccines that help to prevent brucellosis. Preventative measures such as avoiding contact with livestock and wild animals known to have brucellosis, avoiding eating or drinking unpasteurized milk or its derivatives and wearing protective gear when working closely with animals can minimise risk for brucellosis. Also read : Dengue Prevention.