DOH checking possible cases of brucellosis after outbreak in China

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The Department of Health said it is monitoring if anyone in the country has been infected by brucellosis, a bacterial disease that has sickened several thousands in China over the past month. (FILE PHOTO)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, November 6) — The Department of Health said it is monitoring if anyone in the country has been infected by brucellosis, a bacterial disease that has sickened several thousands in China over the past month.

"Kasalukuyan po kaming nakikipag-ugnayan sa mga designated office kung mayroong na-record na kaso sa ating bansa," Health Spokesperson Ma. Rosario Vergeire told the media on Friday.

[Translation: We are currently coordinating with our designated offices to know if there is a record of (brucellosis) cases in our country]

Brucellosis is a bacterial disease caused by various ​Brucella species, which mainly infect cattle, swine, goats, sheep and dogs, Vergeire explained. However, it can still infect human beings through direct contact with infected animals or by consuming contaminated animal products such as some unpasteurized milk, and fresh cheese or by inhaling airborne agents.

Symptoms included headaches, muscle pain, fever and fatigue and in some cases, arthritis or swelling in certain organs, CNN reported.

This was the case in Lanzhou of northwest China, where at least 3,245 people caught the disease as confirmed by the city health commission in September. State media now say the number of infected has risen to over 6,600.

Vergeire said although human-to-human transmission is rare, the public should still practice food hygiene, vaccinate sheep, cattle and goats, and to be careful with the milk and cheese that they consume.

The outbreak in China was due to a factory leak in July or August last year from a biopharmaceutical company that produces vaccines for animal use. The commission said the company was using expired disinfectants and sanitizers which inevitably failed to get rid of the bacteria in the facility, CNN's report stated.

The DOH said it is also working the ASEAN Biodiaspora Virtual Center, Philippine Inter-Agency Committee on Zoonoses, Department of Agriculture Bureau of Animal Industry and the Environment and Natural Resources Department to ensure that they will not miss reporting on any cases in the country.