Monday, March 21, 2022

History of brucellosis

Brucellosis is a zoonotic disease of great animal welfare and economic implications worldwide known since ancient times. People with brucellosis may develop fever, sweats, headaches, back pains, and physical weakness. In severe cases, the central nervous system and the lining of the heart may be affected.

Brucellosis-type illnesses were recognized by Hippocrates in his Epidemics writings; the Apostle Paul is considered to have been infected following his being shipwrecked on the Island of Malta.

The prevalence of brucellosis was reported in the Mediterranean region and it was historically related with war campaigns. A British army surgeon, George Cleghorn, documented details of disease in the year 1751 in his literature with the title ‘Observations on the Epidemical Diseases in Minorca from the Year 1744 to 1749’.

The disease was described as a separate clinical entity as early as during Crimean war on the island of Malta. It came to the attention of British medical officers serving on the island after the Crimean War.

In Malta, David Bruce, a British army surgeon, saw first-hand an illness that caused the sufferers’ temperatures to soar to 41 degrees Celsius at night, only to normalize during the day. In 1886 he isolated a cocco-bacillus that he named “Micrococcus melitensis” from the spleen of a man who had died of “Malta Fever”.

The work of Dr Themistocles Zammit in 1905 showed that infected goats transmitted brucellosis and that banning use of their milk would be effective. Themistocles Zammit, a scientific member of the Bruce-led Mediterranean Fever Commission, proved that the reservoir for the organism was goat’s milk.

In 1897, Bernard Bang, a physician-veterinarian, studied a disease of cattle in Denmark referred to as “contagious abortion” and isolated an organism that he named Bacillus abortus.

Evans revealed that Micrococcus melitensis (Brucella melitensis) isolated from cows and pigs belonged to same genus and nomenclature of genus as Brucella was suggested in honor of army Major-General Sir David Bruce.
History of brucellosis

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