Health officials in Algeria are investigating a large human brucellosis outbreak in Ghardaia province in the eastern part of the country. According to an Algeria Press Service report (computer translated), 819 were diagnosed since the beginning of the year, a number equal to the cumulative cases reported in the previous three years.
All the cases were treated at health care facilities and are considered out of danger.
Algeria is a country in North Africa on the Mediterranean coast. Brucellosis, or Malta fever is considered a “rare” disease in several Mediterranean countries, according to the report. The surge in human brucellosis observed in Ghardaia since the beginning of the current year is has been described as”alarming” by health officials.
Contacted by health officials, the veterinary services, for their part, confirmed 80 cases of bovine brucellosis circumscribed in 13 homes in Ghardaia, Zelfana, Guerrara, Beriane, Metlili and El-Menea since the beginning of the current year, indicating that a screening is done on livestock goats, cattle, sheep and camels to carry out culling of infected animals and thwart the spread of contagious animal diseases.
Investigations reveal the surge of human brucellosis is attributed to non-compliance with regulations and lack of hygiene, as well as the refusal of some farmers to vaccinate their livestock.
The sale of unpasteurized cow, goat and camel milk in plastic bottles intended for mineral water, the lack of control in the marketing of raw milk of dubious origin, and “kamaria” cheese sold on public roads all contribute to the resurgence of the disease.
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.
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.
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. This is seen in people who travel to areas of the Middle East or Latin America (B. melitensis) where brucellosis is endemic in ovine ad bovine animals. “When in Rome” is an attitude many foreign travelers take to experience aspects of a foreign culture.
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.
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%.