Brucellosis Outbreak in China: Key Facts

Brucellosis, also known as Malta fever has recently affected thousands of people in Northwest of China. The infection spread in the country after a leak from a Bio pharmaceutical company in 2019.


The disease is generally caused buy direct contact with livestock carrying the bacteria called brucella. So far, China has not reported any fatalities due to the disease. However, around 1401 have tested positive to the disease.

What is brucellosis disease?

The disease is also known as Mediterranean fever. It results in symptoms such as fatigue, fever, muscle pain and headache. An advanced brucellosis causes chronic symptoms such as swelling in certain organs or arthritis. According to the United States Centre for Disease Control and prevention, the human to human transmission of the disease is extremely rare. People generally contract the disease by breathing in the bacteria or by eating contaminated food.

Current scenario in China

In the Chinese city Lanzhou there has been a leak at Zhongmu Lanzhou biological pharmaceutical company. It is a veterinary Research Institute located in Gansu province of China. The leak occurred in late July and August 2019. The people in the City are reported to have breathed in the bacteria.

The company has used expired sanitizers and disinfectants while producing the brucella animal vaccine. Thus, all the bacteria were not eradicated in the waste gas that was released into the atmosphere. This contaminated waste gas that contained the bacteria formed aerosols and where leak into the air by the wind.

Brucellosis in other parts of the world

The disease is said to have been common in China in 1980s. There have been few others scattered instances of brucellosis outbreak in other parts of the world as well. In 2008, thousands where infected with the brucella bacteria in Bosnia. Here the bacteria got transmitted to humans from Sheep and other infected life stock

Brucellosis in India

Government of India has launched the National Animal Disease Control Programme to eradicate foot-and-mouth disease and brucellosis in livestock. The main objective of the programme is as follows

  • To vaccinate more than 500 million life stock against foot and mouth disease.
  • To vaccinate 46 million female calves against brucellosis disease.
  • The program aims to control the diseases by 2025 and eradicate them by 2030.

In India brucellosis is common among livestock such as cow, Bulls, Sheep, pig, goats and buffaloes. It gets transmitted to humans when they consume unpasteurized milk. The programme was launched in in 2019.