Brucellosis risk factors

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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]


Common risk factors in the development of brucellosis include: consuming unpasteurized dairy products or raw meat products, unsafe hunting practices and occupational exposure.

Risk Factors

Common risk factors in the development of Brucellosis include:[1][2][3][4][5]

Risk factors/risk of exposure in the development of Brucellosis (Center of disease control and prevention)
Countries at Risk Although brucellosis can be found worldwide, it is more common in countries that do not have effective public health and domestic animal health programs. Areas currently listed as high risk are:
  • Mediterranean Basin (Portugal, Spain, Southern France, Italy, Greece, Turkey, North Africa)
  • Mexico, South America and Central America
  • Eastern Europe
  • Asia
  • Africa
  • The Caribbean
  • The Middle East
Occupational Risks Individuals in certain occupations or settings may face increased exposure to the bacteria that cause Brucellosis. These include:
  • Slaughterhouse workers
    • Contamination of skin wounds may be a problem for individuals working in slaughterhouses
  • Meat-packing employees
    • Contamination of skin wounds may be a problem for individuals working in meat packing plants
  • Veterinarians
    • Contamination of skin wounds may be a problem for veterinarians
    • B.canis is the species of Brucella species that can infect dogs. This species has occasionally been transmitted to humans but the vast majority of dog infections do not result in human illness. Although veterinarians exposed to blood of infected animals are at risk, pet owners are not considered to be at risk for infection. This is partly because it is unlikely that they will come in contact with blood, semen or placenta of the dog.
  • Laboratory workers
    • Inhalation of Brucella organisms is not a common route of infection but it can be a significant hazard for people working in laboratories
Unpasteurized Dairy Products and raw meat products
  • Unpasteurized cheeses (sometimes called "village cheeses") from areas at increased risk for brucellosis may represent a particular risk for tourists.
  • Developing countries often do not have safeguards that can help prevent or monitor possible outbreaks, such as pasteurization laws, animal control/slaughter regulations and brucellosis surveillance programs.
  • When traveling in areas with high risk, individuals may unknowingly consume unpasteurized dairy products. People from the U.S. who travel to these areas should:
    • Recognize that milk and dairy products may not be pasteurized and could be unsafe to consume.
    • Only consume meat products which are thoroughly cooked, since many countries cannot ensure Brucellosis-free meat products.
  • Some game animals that transmit brucellosis include:
    • Wild hogs (feral swine)
    • Elk
    • Bison
    • Caribou
    • Moose
  • Hunters may be infected through skin wounds or by accidentally ingesting the bacteria after cleaning animals that they have killed.
Risks for Expecting Mothers


  1. "CDC".
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) (2012). "Human exposures to marine Brucella isolated from a harbor porpoise - Maine, 2012". MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 61 (25): 461–3. PMID 22739776.
  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) (2008). "Laboratory-acquired brucellosis--Indiana and Minnesota, 2006". MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 57 (2): 39–42. PMID 18199967.
  4. Yagupsky P, Baron EJ (2005). "Laboratory exposures to brucellae and implications for bioterrorism". Emerg Infect Dis. 11 (8): 1180–5. doi:10.3201/eid1108.041197. PMC 3320509. PMID 16102304.
  5. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) (2009). "Brucella suis infection associated with feral swine hunting - three states, 2007-2008". MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 58 (22): 618–21. PMID 19521334.