Outbreak of brucellosis among cattle in Kazak…

In Kazakhstan, during routine surveillance, brucellosis was discovered in 2 districts of the Turkestan region:

  • in 2 villages of Kazygurt district, 7 cows and 31 sheep were infected.
  • in Saryagash, 14 cows and 24 sheep were infected.

In people who come into contact with animals, brucellosis has not been detected.

Brucellosis is considered hyperendemic in Kazakhstan

Notes on brucellosis:

Brucellosis (sometimes called malta fever) is an animal disease that can be transmitted to humans (zoonosis). It is caused by bacteria of the genus Brucella. Three species predominate: Brucella melitensisthe most pathogenic, invasive and widespread species in the world, B. abortusand B am. There are other less frequent species, with variable pathogenicity for humans (B. canis, B. ovis, B. marimum, B. inopinataetc.).


The Brucella is found in most mammalian species, including ruminants, domestic and wild, as well as suids (pigs and wild boars) and lagomorphs (hares). Those that infect humans mainly come from domestic cattle, sheep, goats and pigs. The fact that wild animals act as a reservoir of infection complicates eradication efforts.
This bacterial zoonosis is widespread throughout the world. The annual incidence is 500,000 reported cases.

People can become infected in several ways:

  • by direct contact (introduction of germs through the skin or mucous membrane favored by wounds or excoriations) with infected animals, animal carcasses, abortion products, placenta, genital secretions, manure or by accidental contact with biological products in laboratories; this method of contamination concerns people who come into direct contact with infected animals (breeders, veterinarians, inseminators, slaughterhouse or rendering staff) and more rarely laboratory staff during veterinary or medical examinations;
  • by ingesting contaminated food (unpasteurized milk and dairy products from contaminated animals, more rarely raw vegetables contaminated with manure or undercooked meat and offal); it is the main means of contamination among travelers who share the same way of life as the local population, especially in terms of food;
  • by inhalation (of litter dust, contaminated aerosols in laboratories or slaughterhouses), the bacteria survive for several months outside the animal’s body, in the external environment, especially in cold and humid conditions.

Brucellosis is one of the most serious diseases in animals, considering the damage caused by the infection in animals. Decreased milk production, weight loss, loss of youth, infertility, and lameness are some of the effects on animals.

Clinical aspects of brucellosis in humans:

The incubation period of brucellosis varies, from a week to several months. Primary infection may be asymptomatic and disease may not appear until months or years later.
In symptomatic forms, clinical signs are quite variable but usually change in three stages:

  • An episode of acute primary attack: fever associated with myalgia, feeling unwell;
  • A secondary stage in which separate or multiple infectious foci develop: osteo-articular (spondylodiscitis, knee arthritis, etc.), genitourinary (orchitis, epididymitis), hepatic (hepatic abscess), neurological (meningitis, meningo-encephalitis, abscess of brain…), heart (endocarditis…)
  • It is possible, especially in the event of insufficient or poorly followed treatment, a chronic phase whose expression is twofold:

Either a general symptomatology (asthenia, pain, fatigue),
Either a more focal symptomatology (chronic evolution of infectious foci).

Once the diagnosis is confirmed, the treatment of human brucellosis is based on the administration of specific antibiotics for several weeks, and if necessary surgical management of the infectious foci. The fatality rate is less than 2% even without treatment.

To avoid

  • Prevention of occupational contamination is based on biosecurity and occupational hygiene measures: hand washing, wearing gloves, masks and glasses, etc.
  • Control of food source contamination with Brucella is accomplished either by pasteurization or sterilization of milk, or by using raw milk that comes from herds that are officially recognized as free of brucellosis.

The traveler should avoid unpasteurized dairy products and undercooked meat, especially when traveling to countries where brucellosis is endemic.

Source: ProMED.

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