Since the invention of an animal vaccine for brucellosis in the 1970s, the disease has become somewhat rare in the United States. Yet the vaccine cannot prevent all incidence of brucellosis. In 1989, the Centers for Disease Control reported only 95 total cases in the United States. Most of these were reported in persons who worked in the meat processing industry. Brucellosis remains a risk for those who work in close contact with animals, including veterinarians, farmers, and dairy workers.
Brucellosis also remains a risk when animal products from foreign countries are imported into the United States. Outbreaks of brucellosis have been linked to unpasteurized feta and goat cheeses from the Mediterranean region and Europe. In the 1960s, brucellosis was linked to bongo drums imported from Africa: drums made with infected animal skins can harbor Brucella bacteria, which can be transmitted to humans through cuts and scrapes in the human skin surface.
In the United States, preventive measures include a rigorous vaccination program that involves all animals in the meat processing industry. On an individual level, people can avoid the disease by not eating animal products imported from other countries. If this is not possible or desirable, make sure that imported cheeses have been made with pasteurized milk. If the package does not indicate pasteurization, do not eat the cheese.
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