The Taiwan CDC announced today the confirmation of an imported case of brucellosis in a 35-year-old Indonesian female caretaker. This is the first case reported on the island since 2011.

Brucella melitensis colonies/CDC
Brucella melitensis colonies/CDC

The patient developed symptoms in early August and was hospitalized for treatment. She is still hospitalized for medical treatment. None of her close contacts residing in the same household has developed suspected symptoms.

CDC reports according to the epidemiological investigation, the case had not left Taiwan after she arrived in May last year. In addition, she had not traveled to other cities or counties in Taiwan recently and had not consumed unpasteurized dairy products, raw meat and raw food.

Nevertheless, the incubation period of brucellosis varies from weeks to months (even up to half a year). Although it has been 15 months after the case arrived in Taiwan, her test results indicates that she might have been previously infected and her current infection is likely a relapse of her previous infection. Hence, the case was determined to be an imported case. Further, brucellosis is not endemic in Taiwan.

Brucellosis is a zoonosis; the pathogen exists in the tissues, blood, and milk of infected animals. Humans can become infected by coming in contact with contaminated animal tissues, consuming dairy products or exposing to the bacteria in laboratories. Human to human transmission is uncommon. The incubation period of brucellosis varies from one week to a few months. The symptoms include intermittent or irregular fever and influenza-like illnesses such as fever, sweating, headache, back pain and weakness in limbs. The infection may affect the central nervous system in severe cases. Brucellosis is primarily endemic in the Mediterranean Region, East Africa, South and Central America, and the Middle East. Outbreaks have previously occurred in some dairy farms in South East Asia.

In 2011, 5 brucella cases were reported in Taiwan, imported from Africa, Southeast Asia and China, according to health officials.