Brucella is a genus of Gram-negative bacteria.
Brucella spp. are the cause of brucellosis, which is a zoonosis transmitted by ingesting contaminated food (such as unpasteurized milk products), direct contact with an infected animal, or inhalation of aerosols. Transmission from human to human, for example through sexual intercourse or from mother to child, is exceedingly rare, but possible.
Brucellosis can affect any organ or organ system, and 90% of patients have a cyclical (undulant) fever. Though variable, symptoms can also include these clinical signs: headache, weakness, arthralgia, depression, weight loss, fatigue, and liver dysfunction. Foul-smelling perspiration is considered a classical sign. Between 20 and 60% of cases have osteoarticular complications: arthritis, spondylitis, or osteomyelitis. Hepatomegaly may occur, as can gastrointestinal complications.
Up to 20% of cases can have genitourinary involvement; orchitis and epididymitis are most common. Neurological symptoms include depression and mental fatigue. Cardiovascular involvement can include endocarditis resulting in death.
Chronic brucellosis is hard to define; length, type, and response to treatment are variable. Localized infection can occur. Blood donations of infected persons should not be accepted.
Congenitally infected infants can exhibit low birth weight, failure to thrive, jaundice, hepatomegaly, splenomegaly, respiratory difficulty, and general signs of sepsis (fever, vomiting). Some cases are asymptomatic.