Infectious disease of humans and domestic animals. It is characterized by gradual onset of fever, chills, sweats, weakness, and aches, and it usually ends within six months. It is named after the British physician David Bruce (b. 1855—d. 1931), who first identified (1887) the causative bacteria. Three main species in the genus Brucella commonly cause the disease in humans, who contract it from infected animals (goats, sheep, pigs, cattle). Brucellosis is rarely transmitted between humans but spreads rapidly in animals, causing severe economic losses. Drug therapy is not practical for animal brucellosis, but vaccination of young animals is useful. Infected animals must be removed from herds. Antibiotics are effective against acute disease in humans, in whom it can cause liver and heart problems if untreated.
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