Acute liver failure complication of brucellosis infection: a case report and review of the literature

J Med Case Rep. 2018 Mar 9;12(1):62. doi: 10.1186/s13256-018-1576-4.


Background: Brucellosis is one of the most widespread zoonoses worldwide. It can affect any organ system, particularly the gastrointestinal system, but there is no report of acute liver failure as a brucellosis complication.

Case presentation: We present a case of acute liver failure secondary to brucellosis infection. A 75-year-old Hispanic man presented to a University Hospital in Chía, Colombia, with a complaint of 15 days of fatigue, weakness, decreased appetite, epigastric abdominal pain, jaundice, and 10 kg weight loss. On examination in an emergency room, abdomen palpation was normal with hepatosplenomegaly and the results of a liver function test were elevated. The diagnosis of brucellosis was confirmed by epidemiological contact and positive Rose Bengal agglutination with negative enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay immunoglobulin M for Brucella. He was then treated with doxycycline plus trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole, with a favorable clinical outcome.

Conclusions: The clinical presentation of brucellosis can be very imprecise because it can affect any organ system; however, there is no report of acute liver failure as a brucellosis complication. This is the first reported case in the Colombian literature of acute liver failure due to brucellosis. We found this case to be of interest because it could be taken into account for diagnosis in future appearances and we described adequate treatment and actions to be taken at presentation.

Keywords: Acute liver failure; Brucellosis; Parasitic infections; Zoonosis.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Animal Husbandry
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use
  • Brucella melitensis / isolation & purification
  • Brucella melitensis / pathogenicity*
  • Brucellosis / drug therapy
  • Brucellosis / microbiology*
  • Brucellosis / physiopathology
  • Colombia
  • Doxycycline / therapeutic use
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Humans
  • Liver Failure, Acute / drug therapy
  • Liver Failure, Acute / microbiology*
  • Liver Failure, Acute / physiopathology
  • Liver Function Tests*
  • Male
  • Occupational Diseases / microbiology*
  • Rose Bengal / analogs & derivatives
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Trimethoprim, Sulfamethoxazole Drug Combination / therapeutic use


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Rose Bengal
  • Rose Bengal B
  • Trimethoprim, Sulfamethoxazole Drug Combination
  • Doxycycline