The Health Commission of Lanzhou in Gansu province in northeastern China has announced (computer translated) 3,245 people have been confirmed positive for the bacterial disease, brucellosis linked an outbreak caused by a leak at a biopharmaceutical company last year.
The outbreak began from a leak at the Zhongmu Lanzhou biological pharmaceutical factory last summer.
Health officials say as of September 14, 21,847 people were tested, of which more than 3,000 were confirmed.
In December 2019, a joint investigation showed the Zhongmu Lanzhou biological pharmaceutical factory used expired disinfectants and sanitizers in the production of Brucella vaccine and contaminated waste gas formed aerosols that contained the bacteria that was carried by the wind down to the Lanzhou Veterinary Research Institute, where the outbreak first hit.
In January, the factory’s brucellosis vaccine production license was revoked. Seven veterinary drug product approvals were cancelled.
The Lanzhou Biopharmaceutical Factory issued an “apology letter” in February and said it had “severely punished” eight people who were determined as responsible for the incident.
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 and Malta 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.
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%.
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