Brucellosis is an infectious disease that affects livestock and may be transmitted to humans. It is rare in the United States, but occurs more frequently in other parts of the world. The disorder is caused by one of four different species of bacteria that belong to the genus Brucella. Initial symptoms of infection may be nonspecific including fevers, muscle pain, headache, loss of appetite, profuse sweating, and physical weakness. In some cases, the symptoms occur suddenly (acute), whereas, in others, symptoms may develop over the course of a few months. If brucellosis is not treated, the disease may take months to resolve once appropriate therapy is begun.
Brucellosis may be confined to a certain area of the body (local) or have serious widespread complications that affect various organ systems of the body including the central nervous system. Brucellosis may be prevented if people drink only pasteurized cow and goat's milk. Pasteurization kills the bacteria that cause the disease. However, farmers and people exposed to butchered meat may also be affected by brucellosis.