Since January 2015, The Palestinian Ministry of Health (MOH) reports some 100 human brucellosis cases with about half the cases reported from the Hebron district, according to a Al-Hourriah report. Brucellosis is a contagious disease of animals that also affects humans. The disease is also known as Bang’s Disease. In humans, it’s known as Undulant Fever.
According to the Ministry’s director of preventive medicine, Diya Abu Hujeija, the rate of infection is particularly high in 2015 due to a lack of vaccinations provided by the Palestinian Authority, as well as a lack of awareness about the disease.
The report notes over 401 Palestinians were infected by the disease in 2014, compared to 243 in 2013, 184 in 2012, and 179 in 2011 according to MOH data.
Brucellosis is one of the most serious diseases of livestock, considering the damage done by the infection in animals. Decreased milk production, weight loss, loss of young, infertility, and lameness are some of the affects on animals.
The Brucella species are named for their primary hosts: Brucella melitensis is found mostly is goats, sheep and camels, B. abortus is a pathogen of cattle, B. suis is found primarily in swine and B. canis is found in dogs.
The Middle East and North Africa are considered high-risk regions for brucellosis.
There are two common ways people get infected with brucellosis. First, individuals that work with infected animals that have not been vaccinated against brucellosis. This would include farmers, slaughterhouse workers and veterinarians.
They get infected through direct contact or aerosols produced by the infected animal tissue. B. abortus and B. suis are most common.
The second way is through ingesting unpasteurized dairy products.
Brucellosis is also an occupational hazard to laboratory workers who inappropriately handle specimens or have an accident or spill. Brucella is highly infectious in the aerosolized form. There is no vaccine available for humans.
If someone gets infected with Brucella, the incubation period is about 2-3 weeks, though it could be months. Fever, night sweats, severe headache and body aches and other non-specific symptoms may occur.
Acute and chronic brucellosis can lead to complications in multiple organ systems. The skeletal, central nervous system, respiratory tract, the liver, heart, gastrointestinal and genitourinary tracts can all be affected. Untreated brucellosis has a fatality rate of 5%.
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