By Beth Aust, RN, Holistic Health Coach
This is a continuation of our Lyme and coinfection series to help educate you.
Brucellosis is a severe acute febrile disease caused by bacteria of the genus Brucella. Portals of entry are the mouth, conjunctivae, respiratory tract, and abraded skin. Brucella is also passed from handling infected animals or consuming contaminated milk products.
Bartonella and Brucella similarities:
Bartonella and Brucella species are cousins in the relationship between all life and developed out of a common ancestor. They have similar DNA, and the extent to their genomes suggests their division occurred relatively recently. The overlapping characters and similar names often make it difficult to keep them separated when patients and providers are researching zoonotic pathogens. Both bacteria are considered zoonotic, or transmissible between animals and people. Although there are preferred host species that they likely evolved with, Bartonella and Brucella species can be found in a variety of animals.
A major distinction between these relatives is that Bartonella species typically require a vector to gain access to a new host, whereas Brucella species do not.
The disease caused by infection with Brucella species is called brucellosis and infection with Bartonella species is called bartonellosis. Both species can cause cyclic fever, arthritis, and neurological symptoms as well as endocarditis (swelling around the heart).
At the onset, it can mimic influenza with fever reaching 38 to 40°C (100.4 to 104 F) .
Some of the symptoms associated with an infection of the Brucella bacteria include weight loss, abdominal pain, joint and back pain, insomnia, depression, constipation, and fatigue. Since these symptoms can often be indicative of other illnesses, the level of difficulty to accurately diagnose this infection is quite high.
Other symptoms include recurrent fevers, limb and back pain, profuse sweating and fatigue, and anemia.
Neurobrucellosis can cause many neurological symptoms including impaired cognitive functions, memory loss, and speech difficulties.
Before milk pasteurization was common, brucellosis was a household risk from milk products. In the United States, brucellosis is the most common infection acquired by laboratory workers. In China, there have been recent large infections among animal researchers, as well as a large community exposure when a production facility without adequate sanitary procedures spewed the bacteria into the air.
Brucella canis is primarily associated with dogs. These bacteria can be transmitted to humans through direct mucosal contact with infected bodily fluids. The highest concentration of viable bacteria is found in vaginal discharge, semen, and placenta, but studies show that urine, feces, saliva, and blood are all potentially infective as well. Brucella canis, along with other Brucella species, can also become airborne and infect people via inhalation of live bacteria.
Brucella can be detected in a traditional manner by using a Brucella Antibody IGG/IGM screen. If the Brucella Antibody Screen is positive or equivocal, a Brucella Antibody with bacterial agglutination is done for confirmation.
The treatment of choice for brucellosis is antibiotics, however, IM of CNY does offer an integrative approach in which herbal recommendations would be reviewed.
Finding an expert in the field:
If your feel you may have Brucella or any tick-borne illness, and your health care provider is not knowledgeable about testing and treatment, contact Integrative Medicine of Central New York to schedule your initial consultation.
Dr. Puc has been trained in tick-borne disease and is knowledgeable and aware of current testing and treatment of Lyme disease and other coinfections such as Brucella.
Contact the office for more information at (315) 741-5774.
This blog is part of our Lyme Disease and Coinfection series. Please be sure to check out the other blogs in our series or subscribe to our newsletter for more information.