What causes brucellosis?

Updated: Apr 22, 2021
  • Author: Nicholas John Bennett, MBBCh, PhD, FAAP, MA(Cantab); Chief Editor: Michael Stuart Bronze, MD  more...
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Brucellosis is caused by infection with Brucella species. The traditional classification of these species is based primarily on the preferred hosts.

Table 1. Currently Recognized Brucella Species [3] (Open Table in a new window)


Animal Reservoir

Geographic Distribution

Brucella melitensis

Goats, sheep, camels

Mediterranean, Asia, Latin America, parts of Africa and some southern European countries

Brucella abortus

Cows, buffalo, camels, yaks


Brucella suis

Pigs (biotype 1-3)

South America, Southeast Asia, United States

Brucella canis



Brucella ovis


No known human cases

Brucella neotomae


Not known to cause human disease

Brucella pinnipediae and Brucella cetaceae

Marine animals, minke whales, dolphins, seals

Case reports describing some human cases (mainly neurobrucellosis)

Brucella inopinata unknown Case report of human infection of a breast implant
Brucella microti Voles South Moravia, Czech Republic
Brucella papionis Baboons Tanzania
Brucella vulpis Foxes Austria

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