CDC reports a surge in global brucellosis cases, exceeding previous estimates

A recent study conducted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has unveiled startling new figures for global brucellosis infections in humans. This zoonotic disease, often overlooked due to its connection with livestock health, is now coming to the forefront as a critical public health concern.    

According to the CDC's latest publication in the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases, new estimates suggest there are between 1.6 to 2.1 million new brucellosis infections each year. This figure is three to four times higher than the previously accepted estimate of approximately 500.000 annual cases.    

Brucellosis in humans is caused by the Brucella species. Individuals are often infected through the consumption of unpasteurized dairy products or through contact with contaminated livestock tissue.    

In an effort to shed light on the true scope of human brucellosis, the CDC undertook a thorough investigation. The agency analyzed data from the World Organization of Animal Health (WOAH) and human population statistics reported to the World Bank. This allowed the CDC to identify at-risk populations and estimate the risk for areas with limited data, thereby creating a more accurate picture of the global and regional risk of brucellosis.    

These findings indicate that every year, there are at least 1.6 to 2.1 million new cases of brucellosis worldwide, which significantly surpasses the older estimate. Notably, these figures may not include misdiagnosed or underdiagnosed cases, suggesting that the actual number of infections could be even higher.    

The study also highlighted specific regions with a high risk of Brucella infections. Africa has been pinpointed as an area of increasing concern due to its rising demand for animal products and lack of sufficient preventive measures. Asia is another high-risk region due to the close contact with small ruminants and the consumption of raw dairy products.    

In the Americas, the risk is widespread, with particular hotspots identified. Central America has been identified as the highest risk region, followed by northern and southern parts of South America. This elevated risk is associated with the farming of cattle, small ruminants, and pigs, and the trade of raw dairy products.    

As the consumption of animal products and interaction with livestock continue, the threat posed by Brucella becomes increasingly significant. This underscores the crucial importance of public health initiatives to combat this previously underestimated threat.