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Emerg Infect Dis. 2007 Dec;13(12):1895-900. doi: 10.3201/eid1312.070527.

Changing epidemiology of human brucellosis, Germany, 1962-2005.

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Rheinisch-Westfälische Technische Hochschule Aachen University, Aachen, Germany.


Trends in the epidemiology of human brucellosis in Germany were investigated by analyzing national surveillance data (1962-2005) complemented by a questionnaire-based survey (1995-2000). After a steady decrease in brucellosis incidence from 1962 to the 1980s, a persistent number of cases has been reported in recent years, with the highest incidence in Turkish immigrants (0.3/100,000 Turks vs. 0.01/100,000 in the German population; incidence rate ratio 29). Among cases with reported exposure risks, 59% were related to the consumption of unpasteurized cheese from brucellosis-endemic countries. The mean diagnostic delay was 2.5 months. Case fatality rates increased from 0.4% (1978-1981) to a maximum of 6.5% (1998-2001). The epidemiology of brucellosis in Germany has evolved from an endemic occupational disease among the German population into a travel-associated foodborne zoonosis, primarily affecting Turkish immigrants. Prolonged diagnostic delays and high case fatality call for targeted public health measures.

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