(Undulant Fever; Bang’s Disease; Malta Fever)
by Krisha McCoy, MS
Brucellosis is a rare bacterial disease that causes fevers to come and go.
Brucellosis is caused by the bacterium Brucella. This bacterium infects domesticated animals. It can be spread to humans through:
Risk Factors TOP
Factors that increase your risk of getting brucellosis include:
Symptoms of brucellosis usually appear within two weeks of infection. Symptoms can appear from five days to several months after infection.
In the early stage, symptoms may include:
As it progresses, brucellosis causes a high fever (104° F to 105° F). This fever occurs in the evening along with severe sweating. It becomes normal or near normal in the morning, and usually begins again at night.
This on and off fever usually lasts 1 to 5 weeks. After 5 weeks, symptoms usually improve or disappear for two days to two weeks. Then, the fever returns. In some patients, this fever returns only once. In others, the disease becomes chronic, and the fever returns, lessens, and then returns again over months or years.
In later stages, brucellosis can cause:
Patients usually recover within 2 to 5 weeks. Rarely, complications can develop. These may include:
Brucellosis is also believed to cause a high rate of miscarriage during early pregnancy in infected women.
Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.
Your doctor may need to test your bodily fluids. This can be done with:
Your doctor may need pictures of your bodily structures. This can be done with:
Many patients recover from brucellosis on their own. However, early diagnosis and treatment can reduce the risk of complications and infection. Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Treatment options include:
Your doctor may prescribe one or more antibiotics to control and prevent brucellosis. Antibiotics are given for up to six weeks.
Surgery may be needed in patients with abscesses or an infection that does not respond to antibiotics.
To help reduce your chances of getting brucellosis, take the following steps:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
United States Department of Agriculture
Public Health Agency of Canada
Brucellosis. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/brucellosis/. Updated November 12, 2012. Accessed August 6, 2013.
Brucellosis. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://dynamed.ebscohost.com/about/about-us. Updated January 30, 2013. Accessed August 6, 2013.
Patel PJ, Kolawole TM, et al. Sonographic findings in scrotal brucellosis. J Clin Ultrasound. 1988;16:483-486.
Last reviewed August 2013 by Michael Woods, MD
Last Updated: 5/11/2013