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Emerg Infect Dis. 1997 Apr-Jun; 3(2): 213–221.
PMCID: PMC2627605

Brucellosis: an overview.


Brucellosis remains a major zoonosis worldwide. Although many countries have eradicated Brucella abortus from cattle, in some areas Brucella melitensis has emerged as a cause of infection in this species as well as in sheep and goats. Despite vaccination campaigns with the Rev 1 strain, B. melitensis remains the principal cause of human brucellosis. Brucella suis is also emerging as an agent of infection in cattle, thus extending its opportunities to infect humans. The recent isolation of distinctive strains of Brucella from marine mammals has extended its ecologic range. Molecular genetic studies have demonstrated phylogenetic affiliation to Agrobacterium, Phyllobacterium, Ochrobactrum, and Rhizobium. Polymerase chain reaction and gene probe development may provide more effective typing methods. Pathogenicity is related to production of lipopolysaccharides containing a poly N-formyl perosamine O chain, CuZn superoxide dismutase, erythrlose phosphate dehydrogenase, stress-induced proteins related to intracellular survival, and adenine and guanine monophosphate inhibitors of phagocyte functions. Protective immunity is conferred by antibody to lipopolysaccharide and T-cell-mediated macrophage activation triggered by protein antigens. Diagnosis still centers on isolation of the organism and serologic test results, especially enzyme immunoassay, which is replacing other methods. Polymerase chain reaction is also under evaluation. Therapy is based on tetracyclines with or without rifampicin, aminoglycosides, or quinolones. No satisfactory vaccines against human brucellosis are available, although attenuated purE mutants appear promising.

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Selected References

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