undulant fever

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a generalized infection involving primarily the reticuloendothelial system, marked by remittent fluctuating fever, malaise, and headache. It is caused by various species of Brucella and is transmitted to humans from domestic animals such as pigs, goats, and cattle, especially through infected milk or contact with the carcass of an infected animal.

The disease is also called undulant fever because one of the major symptoms in humans is a fever that fluctuates widely at regular intervals. The symptoms in the beginning stages are difficult to notice and include loss of weight and increased irritability. As the illness advances, headaches, chills, diaphoresis, and muscle aches and pains appear. It is possible for these symptoms to persist for years, either intermittently or continuously, although most patients recover completely within 2 to 6 months. Diagnosis is confirmed by blood cultures or serologic agglutination tests.

Treatment consists of rest and supportive care with a prolonged antibiotic regimen. Prevention is best accomplished by the pasteurization of milk and a program of testing, vaccination, and elimination of infected animals.
Miller-Keane Encyclopedia and Dictionary of Medicine, Nursing, and Allied Health, Seventh Edition. © 2003 by Saunders, an imprint of Elsevier, Inc. All rights reserved.

undulant fever

The American Heritage® Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2007, 2004 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.


A highly contagiously infection by Brucella spp, primarily B abortus (less commonly, B melintensis and B suis), caused by skin contact with infected cattle, goats and sheep or consumption of contaminated milk or meat.
Primarily affects veterinarians, farmers, wool sorters and dairy workers, who are occupationally exposed to infected animals, meats or spore-laden wool.
Clinical findings
Fever, sweating, malaise, aches, meningitis, abscesses of brain, liver, spleen, cholecytitis, endocarditis, arthritis, spondylitis, osteomyelitis, erythema nodosum, inhalation pneumonitis.
Doxycycline, rifampin for 6+ weeks.
Generally less than 5%.
Segen's Medical Dictionary. © 2012 Farlex, Inc. All rights reserved.


An infectious disease caused by Brucella, characterized byfever, sweating, weakness, and aching, and transmitted to humans by direct contact with diseased animals or through ingestion of infected meat or milk.
Synonym(s): undulant fever.
Medical Dictionary for the Health Professions and Nursing © Farlex 2012

undulant fever

Collins Dictionary of Medicine © Robert M. Youngson 2004, 2005


Sir David, English surgeon, 1855-1931.
Brucella abortus - infectious bacteria causing abortions in cattle, sheep, mares; causes undulant fever in man and a wasting disease in chickens. Synonym(s): abortus bacillus; Bang bacillus
Brucella - a genus of encapsulated, nonmotile bacteria (family Brucellaceae) causing infection of the genital organs, the mammary gland, and the respiratory and intestinal tracts.
brucellosis - an infectious disease caused by Brucella, and transmitted by direct contact with diseased animals or through ingestion of infected meat, milk, or cheese. Synonym(s): febris undulans; Malta fever; Mediterranean fever; undulant fever
Medical Eponyms © Farlex 2012

Patient discussion about undulant fever

Q. Can Familial Mediterranean Fever (FMF) cause a heart enlargement? A friend of mine is suffering from FMF. its usually doesn't bother him that much and when it dose the symptoms are stomach ache and fever. he has no heart symptoms and takes no medications. his physician told him that because of the FMF he might suffer from a heart enlargement, and that he should take some oral medications daily to prevent it. how can it be?

A. This question can't be answered with a strict yes or no.
although FMF on its own can't cause heart enlargement, FMF can cause amyloidosis because of the recurrent inflammation. this may lead to enlargement of the heart which is a severe disease.
the good side is that taking medication can decrease the chance of the cardiac enlargement.

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References in periodicals archive ?
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention no longer considers undulant fever a major health risk.
In humans, it causes undulant fever and male sterility and in animals, B.
Brucellosis (undulant fever, Malta fever, or Mediterranean fever) is an important but neglected, reemerging, endemic, zoonotic, communicable disease.
Humans who come in contact with Brucella can get undulant fever, which is marked by chronic flulike symptoms.
Brucellosis, which is caused by infection with the bacterium brucella abortus, causes cattle to abort and can cause a disease in humans known as undulant fever.