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Scientific classification
Kingdom: Bacteria
Phylum: Proteobacteria
Class: Alpha Proteobacteria
Order: Rhizobiales
Family: Brucellaceae
Genus: Brucella

B. abortus
B. canis
B. ceti
B. inopinata
B. melitensis
B. microti
B. neotomae
B. ovis
B. suis
B. pinnipedialis

Brucella is a genus of Gram-negative bacteria.[1] They are small (0.5 to 0.7 by 0.6 to 1.5 µm), non-motile, non-encapsulated coccobacilli, which function as facultative intracellular parasites.

Brucella is the cause of brucellosis, which is a zoonosis. It is transmitted by ingesting infected food, 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.[2] Minimum infectious exposure is between 10 - 100 organisms. Brucellosis primarily occurs through occupational exposure (e.g. exposure to cattle, sheep, pigs), but also by consumption of unpasteurised milk products.

There are a few different species of Brucella, each with slightly different host specificity. B. melitensis which infects goats and sheep, B. abortus which infects cattle, B. suis infects pigs, B. ovis infects sheep and B. neotomae. Recently new species were discovered, in marine mammals (B. pinnipedialis and B. ceti ), in the common vole Microtus arvalis (B. microti ), and even in a breast implant (B. inopinata ).

However, the new NCBI taxonomy has named all Brucella species Brucella melitensis. They include Brucella melitensis 16M and 5 other biovars: abortus, canis, neotomae, ovis, and suis.



Brucella is isolated from a blood culture on Castenada medium. Prolonged incubation (up to 6 weeks) may be required as they're slow-growing, but on modern automated machines the cultures often show positive results within seven days. On Gram stain they appear as dense clumps of Gram-negative coccobacilli and are exceedingly difficult to see.

It's crucial to be able to differentiate Brucella from Salmonella which could also be isolated from blood cultures and are Gram negative. Testing for urease would successfully accomplish the task; as it is positive for the former and negative for the latter.

Brucella could also be seen in Bone marrow.

Laboratory acquired brucellosis is common.[3] This most often happens when the disease is not thought of until cultures become positive, by which time the specimens have already been handled by a number of laboratory staff. The idea of preventive treatment is to stop people who have been exposed to Brucella from becoming unwell with the disease.

There are no clinical trials to be relied on as a guide for optimal treatment, but a three week course of rifampicin and doxycycline twice daily is the combination most often used, and appears to be efficacious;[3][4] the advantage of this regimen is that it is oral medication and there are no injections, however, a high rate of side effects (nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite) has also been reported.[4]

Human brucellosis

Sir David Bruce isolated B. melitensis from British soldiers who died from Malta fever in Malta. The disease is characterized by acute undulating fever, headache, night sweats, fatigue and anorexia. Human brucellosis is not considered a contagious disease and people become infected by contact with fluids from infected animals (sheep, cattle or pigs) or derived food products like unpasteurized milk and cheese. Brucellosis is also considered an occupational disease because of a higher incidence in people working with animals (slaughterhouse cases). The real worldwide incidence of brucellosis is unknown because there is a low level of surveillance and reporting in Brucella-endemic areas.

Blue light study

In a study published in Science in August 2007, it was revealed that Brucella reacts strongly to the presence of the blue spectrum in natural light, reproducing at a great rate and becoming infectious. Conversely, depriving Brucella of the blue wavelengths dropped its reproductive rate by 90%, a result one of the co-authors called "spectacular."[5][6]


  1. ^ Ryan KJ, Ray CG (editors) (2004). Sherris Medical Microbiology (4th ed.). McGraw Hill. ISBN 0-8385-8529-9.  
  2. ^ "Diagnosis and Management of Acute Brucellosis in Primary Care". Brucella Subgroup of the Northern Ireland Regional Zoonoses Group. August 2004.  
  3. ^ a b Robichaud S, Libman M, Behr M, Rubin E (2004). "Prevention of laboratory-acquired brucellosis". Clin. Infect. Dis. 38 (12): e119–22. doi:10.1086/421024. PMID 15227634.  
  4. ^ a b Maley MW, Kociuba K, Chan RC (2006). "Prevention of laboratory-acquired brucellosis: significant side effects of prophylaxis". Clin. Infect. Dis. 42 (3): 433–4. doi:10.1086/499112. PMID 16392095.  
  5. ^ "Deadly in the Daylight" August 23, 2007 in ScienceNOW Daily News. Accessed September 8, 2007.
  6. ^ "Blue-Light-Activated Histidine Kinases: Two-Component Sensors in Bacteria", August 24 2007, Science Vol. 317:5841, pp. 1090 - 1093 Accessed September 8, 2007.

External links



Up to date as of January 23, 2010

From Wikispecies


Main Page
Superregnum: Bacteria
Regnum: Bacteria
Phylum: Proteobacteria
Classis: Alpha Proteobacteria
Ordo: Rhizobiales
Familia: Brucellaceae
Genus: Brucella
Species: Brucella abortus
Subspecies: Brucella abortus bv. 1


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