Infectious diseases

Brucellosis in sheep and goats

Synonyms brucellosis in sheep and goats: Maltese, or Mediterranean, fever. Brucellosis is an infectious contagious disease, occurring with lesions of the musculoskeletal, nervous, reproductive and other systems. The disease tends to chronicity. About the infection you should notify the appropriate public health. Brucellosis of sheep and goats caused by Gram-negative bacteria (Brucella) of the genus Brucella melitensis. Brucellosis bacteria were identified English physician David Bruce (Bruce) from the spleen of a deceased person in 1886. The disease was named after him. Infection of humans usually occurs from sick animals, rarely from patients. Maltese, or Mediterranean, fever carries sheep and goats. The disease is spread mostly in the South. For example, in Germany for the year are nearly 130, in Italy 3000, in Spain 6000 cases of the disease. Sometimes the disease is called undulating fever, as the body temperature of patients is increasing, then decreases.


  • 1 to 3 weeks – the period of fever.
  • From 2 to 14 days the period of normal body temperature.
  • Swollen lymph nodes.
  • Enlarged liver and spleen. Jaundice.
  • Pain in the joints.


The bacteria are transmitted from animal to animal and to humans through contact with infected feces, urine, milk, and meat. Brucella are connecting to the eyes and skin of infected animals. Infection often occurs through unpasteurized or inadequately pasteurized milk. Brucella in humans can also get minor scratches on the skin. Brucellosis in sheep and goats is more common in rural areas. The groups at risk are veterinarians, milkmaids, livestock workers and hunters. Brucellosis can be recognized as an occupational disease.


The disease is treated with antibiotics. Sometimes you have to be treated and the individual symptoms of brucellosis, such as fever and prescribed pain medication. At high temperature should be in bed.

People who have to deal with the sick and fallen animals must wear protective goggles and rubber gloves. People at risk are vaccinated.

People who are infected with brucellosis of sheep and goats have a strong weakness, which becomes the reason for their visit to doctor.

Pathogen and antibodies against brucellosis can be detected in blood, urine and tissues, but it is not always possible. If a patient has symptoms of brucellosis in sheep and goats, the doctor uses the survey attempts to establish whether the patient did not have contact with infected animals or products.

Course of the disease

The incubation period lasts from several days to several weeks. Then, the first period of increased temperature begins. Temperature increase in the evening, in the morning the patient sweats profusely. Lymph nodes, liver and spleen increase, pain in muscles and joints appear. There is a temporary inflammation of multiple joints. The period of high temperature lasts from 1 to 3 weeks, 2 to 14 days period without fever, then the temperature rises again, all repeated periodically. The illness can last up to 6 months. The patient gradually loses weight, his strength exhausted. Threatening complications of brucellosis in sheep and goats – is bronchitis and pneumonia, inflammation of the kidney is less frequent. Inflammation of the heart muscle, nerve, testes, brain or its membranes may occur when the Maltese fever.

Is it dangerous?

Death due to the disease is rare. Brucellosis can occur in a mild form, such as the flu.

Depending on the source of infection brucellosis is called Maltese fever (if the person is infected from sheep and goats), Bang’s disease and swine brucellosis. Symptoms are similar.