Laboratory exposures to brucellae and implications for bioterrorism

Emerg Infect Dis. 2005 Aug;11(8):1180-5. doi: 10.3201/eid1108.041197.


Brucellae are class 3 organisms and potential agents of bioterrorism. Because of effective public health measures, brucellosis has become a rare disease in industrialized countries, and clinical microbiology laboratories are frequently unfamiliar with the genus. A low index of suspicion by physicians or failure to notify the laboratory, equivocal Gram-stain results, misidentification of the organism by commercial systems, unsafe laboratory practices, and laboratory accidents have been responsible for numerous cases of exposure to the organism and laboratory-acquired disease in recent years. Discovery of a laboratory exposure to brucellae should prompt an exhaustive investigation of the event and its circumstances, definition of the population at risk, enforcement of safe laboratory practices, and antimicrobial drug prophylaxis for exposed persons. Inadvertent exposures to brucellae in the clinical laboratory indicate a widespread lack of preparedness to cope with eventual biologic threats involving use of the organism.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Brucella / growth & development*
  • Brucellosis / epidemiology*
  • Brucellosis / prevention & control
  • Brucellosis / transmission
  • Disease Outbreaks
  • Humans
  • Laboratory Infection / microbiology*
  • Medical Laboratory Personnel*
  • Occupational Diseases / microbiology*
  • Occupational Exposure