U.S – The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have shattered previous estimations regarding human brucellosis, a zoonotic disease that often flies under the radar.

The CDC’s recent article published in Emerging Infectious Diseases presents a new, alarming estimate of global human brucellosis cases—1.6 to 2.1 million new cases per year, three to four times higher than the long-standing estimate of 500,000 cases annually.

Human brucellosis, caused by the Brucella species, is usually contracted through the consumption of unpasteurized milk products or handling of contaminated livestock tissues.

This disease has largely remained in the shadows, overshadowed by concerns for livestock health. However, the CDC’s study now illuminates the magnitude of this underrecognized public health concern.

To arrive at this eye-opening estimate, the CDC embarked on a comprehensive mission to fill the gaps in our understanding of human brucellosis.

The agency combed through data from the World Organization of Animal Health (WOAH) and human population figures reported to the World Bank. By identifying at-risk populations and estimating risks for those lacking data, the CDC painted a clearer picture of the global and regional risk of acquiring human brucellosis.

The findings are sobering. It is now apparent that at least 1.6 to 2.1 million new cases of human brucellosis occur annually worldwide—numbers that far surpass the previous estimate of 500,000 cases.

It’s essential to note that these statistics do not account for cases that may be misdiagnosed or underdiagnosed, suggesting that the actual incidence could be even higher.

At-risk regions unveiled

Certain regions have emerged as hotspots for Brucella infections. Africa, due to its growing demand for animal products and insufficient preventive programs, is facing an increasing risk.

Similarly, Asia finds itself in the crosshairs due to close contact with small ruminants and the consumption of raw milk products.

In the Americas, the risk is uniformly spread across the continent, with distinct hotspots. Central America stands as the highest risk area, followed by northern and southern South America. This heightened risk is attributed to the farming of cattle, small ruminants, and pigs, as well as the trade of raw milk products.

This revelation underscores the pressing need for increased awareness, surveillance, and prevention measures for human brucellosis.

The disease’s true scale has been unveiled, demanding greater attention and resources to protect vulnerable populations worldwide.

As we consume animal products and engage with livestock, the shadow of Brucella looms larger than ever, emphasizing the importance of public health efforts to mitigate this underestimated menace.

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