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Brucella melitensis, Molecular Detection

Molecular detection of Brucella melitensis is used for laboratory documentation of brucellosis caused by this species.

Brucella melitensis is a bacterial species that belongs to the genus Brucella. It is one of several species within the genus responsible for causing brucellosis, a zoonotic infectious disease that primarily affects animals but can also be transmitted to humans. Brucella melitensis is particularly associated with infections in small ruminants such as goats and sheep.

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Brucella melitensis primarily infects small ruminants, especially goats and sheep. However, it can also infect other animals like camels, cattle, and swine, though with varying degrees of severity.

Humans can become infected with Brucella melitensis through direct contact with infected animals or consumption of unpasteurized dairy products (e.g., raw goat or sheep milk and cheese). Occupational exposure, such as veterinarians, farmers, and slaughterhouse workers, is a common route of transmission.

Brucellosis in humans can manifest with a wide range of symptoms, including fever, fatigue, sweats, joint pain, and muscle aches. It can also lead to more severe complications if left untreated, affecting various organs and systems, including the central nervous system and reproductive organs.

The diagnosis of Brucella melitensis infection used to be confirmed through blood culture or serological tests but PCR (polymerase chain reaction) assays and other molecular methods are now used as more reliable and sensitive methods to detect the presence of the bacteria.

Brucellosis is treatable with appropriate antibiotics, typically a combination of drugs like doxycycline and rifampin. Treatment can be prolonged and may require several weeks or even months to ensure the complete eradication of the bacteria.

Preventing Brucella melitensis infection involves measures such as the pasteurization of dairy products, practicing good hygiene when handling animals and animal products, and vaccination of livestock to reduce the prevalence of bacteria in animal populations. Brucellosis is an important zoonotic disease that can have economic and public health impacts. Control measures, including vaccination programs for livestock and public health education about the risks associated with raw dairy products, are crucial for preventing its spread and reducing human cases of brucellosis.

Brucellosis caused by Brucella melitensis is found in various parts of the world, especially in regions where sheep and goats are raised, like Mediterranean countries including Greece.

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