Brucellosis historical perspective

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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1]; Associate Editor(s)-in-Chief: Raviteja Guddeti, M.B.B.S. [2] Danitza Lukac Vishal Devarkonda, M.B.B.S[3]


Brucellosis is an ancient disease. According to some studies, there is evidence that Brucellosis occurred in animals 60 million years ago and 3 million years ago in human beings. In 450 BC, Hippocrates described a disease similar to Brucellosis.

Historical Perspective

Brucellosis is an ancient disease. In 450 BC, Hippocrates described a disease similar to brucellosis. Few of the important events in understanding the nature of disease are:[1][2][3]

  • In 1860, Jeffery Allen Marston, surgical assistant in Royal Academy of Medicine, described brucellosis as “gastric remittent fever”.
  • In 1887, Sir David Bruce, Scottish physician, isolated gram negative coccobacilli from spleens of five british soldiers, termed it as micrococcus.
  • In 1895, the Danish veterinarian Bernard Lauritz Frederik Bang isolated microorganisms from cattle, termed it as Bacillus abortus
  • In 1897, Wright and Smith described brucellosis as a zoonotic disease, after detecting specific antibodies of Brucella melitensis in human and animal serum.
  • In 1897, Bernhard Bang and Danish veterinarian isolated Brucella abortus as the agent and the additional name Bang's disease was assigned. In modern usage "Bang's disease" is often shortened to just "bangs" when ranchers discuss the disease or vaccine.
  • In 1905, Maltese doctor and archaeologist Sir Temi Zammit identified unpasteurized milk as the major source of the pathogen and it has since become known as Malta Fever (or Deni Rqiq locally). In cattle this disease is also known as contagious abortion or infectious abortion.
  • The popular name undulant fever originates from the characteristic undulance (or wave-like nature) of the fever which rises and falls over weeks in untreated patients. In the 20th Century, this name, along with "Brucellosis" (after Brucella, named for Dr Bruce), gradually replaced the 19th Century names "Mediterranean fever" and "Malta fever".
  • In 1989, neurologists in Saudi Arabia discovered "Neurobrucellosis", a neurological involvement in Brucellosis.


  1. Akpinar O (2016). "Historical perspective of brucellosis: a microbiological and epidemiological overview". Infez Med. 24 (1): 77–86. PMID 27031903.
  2. Vassallo DJ (1996). "The saga of brucellosis: controversy over credit for linking Malta fever with goats' milk". Lancet. 348 (9030): 804–8. PMID 8813991.
  3. Wright A.E., Smith F. On the application of the serum test to the differential diagnosis of typhoid fever and Malta fever. Lancet. 1, 656-659,1897