Bacterial outbreak infects thousands in China amid the COVID-19 pandemic: Know the symptoms

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Even as the world is grappling with the COVID-19 pandemic, several thousand people in northwest China have tested positive for brucellosis, a bacterial disease. This was confirmed by the authorities recently. The Brucellosis outbreak was caused by a leak at a bio-pharmaceutical company last year. According to CNN, the Health Commission of Lanzhou, the capital city of Gansu province, confirmed that 3,245 people had contracted the disease, which is often caused by contact with livestock carrying the bacteria brucella. Another 1,401 people have tested as preliminarily positive, though there have been no fatalities reported, the city’s Health Commission said on Tuesday. In total, authorities have tested 21,847 people out of the city’s 2.9 million population. Also Read – Human trials for Russia’s COVID-19 vaccine going on: Volunteers experience side effects

This outbreak stemmed from a leak at the Zhongmu Lanzhou biological pharmaceutical factory, which occurred between late July to late August last year, according to the CNN. While producing Brucella vaccines for animal use, the factory used expired disinfectants and sanitizers — meaning not all bacteria were eradicated in the waste gas, the report said. Also Read – COVID-19 Live Updates: Cases in India surge to 52,14,677 while death toll reaches 84,372

A bacterial infection that spreads from animals to humans

Brucellosis is a zoonotic bacterial infection. In other words, it spreads from animals to people. You can catch the infection by eating raw or unpasteurized dairy products. Sometimes, the bacteria that cause this disease can also spread through the air or through direct contact with infected animals. Human-to-human transmission is extremely rare, according to the CDC. Instead, most people are infected by eating contaminated food or breathing in the bacteria — which seems to be the case in Lanzhou. Also Read – Potential COVID-19 drug azithromycin may significantly increase the risk of cardiac events

Symptoms of brucellosis

Common symptoms of this condition include fever, joint pain and fatigue. According to the media reports, the disease, also known as Malta fever or Mediterranean fever, can cause symptoms including headaches and muscle pain too. While these symptoms may subside, some symptoms can go on to become chronic or never really go away, like arthritis or swelling in certain organs, as per the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Most of the symptoms are very similar to those of the flu and COVID-19. You may also experience chills, loss of appetite, excessive sweating and general weakness. Most of these symptoms may disappear for weeks or months and then return again even after treatment. Long-term symptoms include fatigue, recurrent fevers, arthritis, inflammation of the heart (endocarditis) and spondylitis. It can also affect the spleen and liver.

Treatment options

This condition is usually treated with antibiotics. But treatment takes several weeks to months and there is a strong possibility that the infection can recur. The best way to keep yourself safe is by avoiding raw dairy products and taking precautions when working with animals.

(With inputs from IANS)

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