Childhood brucellosis in southwestern Saudi Arabia: a 5-year experience

J Trop Pediatr. 1992 Aug;38(4):167-72. doi: 10.1093/tropej/38.4.167.


One-hundred-and-fifty-seven children admitted with brucellosis at Abha, Saudi Arabia, were studied prospectively. Ninety-two per cent gave a history of animal contact, usually with sheep or goats, or ingesting raw milk, milk products, or raw liver. Three-quarters of the patients had an acute or subacute presentation with diverse symptomatology: fever (100 per cent), malaise (91 per cent), anorexia (68 per cent), cough (20 per cent), abdominal symptoms (20 per cent), arthralgia (25 per cent). Hepatomegaly (31 per cent), splenomegaly (55 per cent), and lymphadenopathy (18 per cent) were common findings. Organ complications were rare except for arthritis (36 per cent) which usually presented as a peripheral oligoarthritis involving the hips and knees. All patients had significant agglutination titres; B. melitensis was grown from the blood in 7 of 16 (44 per cent) patients. Haematological variations were common, but non-specific: anaemia (64 per cent), thrombocytopenia (28 per cent), leucopenia (38 per cent), leucocytosis (12 per cent), and elevated erythrocyte sedimentation rate (81 per cent). Varying combinations of rifampicin, co-trimoxazole, tetracycline, and streptomycin resulted in a prompt pyrexial response (mean: 3.8 days), and a slower response in the arthropathy and hepatosplenomegaly. Relapses were related to poor compliance, use of a single drug or a shorter duration of chemotherapy. Brucellosis is a common childhood problem in southwestern Saudi Arabia as in other parts of the country and the Middle East. It should be considered in every child from an endemic area presenting with a febrile illness and a history of animal contact.

MeSH terms

  • Agglutination Tests
  • Animals
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use
  • Brucella abortus / isolation & purification
  • Brucellosis / diagnosis*
  • Brucellosis / drug therapy
  • Brucellosis / epidemiology
  • Cattle
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Patient Compliance
  • Prevalence
  • Saudi Arabia / epidemiology


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents