Recent Trends in Human Brucellosis in Israel Academic Article uri icon

abstract

  • The majority of human brucellosis cases in Israel are caused by the ingestion of unpasteurized dairy foods produced from unlicensed family-owned flocks whose products are sold door-to-door at low prices. Exposure to infected farm animals is another major cause of infection. To determine, by examining recent incidence data and brucellosis control programs, whether a reduction in the incidence of human brucellosis in Israel can be sustained. Case information is reported to the Health Ministry and national data are compiled and analyzed by the Division of Epidemiology. The current study focuses on data from 1998 through 2009 and discusses several of the major prevention and health education programs that have been implemented. An incidence decline of almost 70% during the period 1998-2002 was followed by a return to previously existing levels, although the incidence has remained consistently lower than in past decades. The disease is mostly limited to certain sectors of the rural Arab population. In 2009 the incidence rate per 100,000 population was 7.0 among Arabs compared with 0.2 among Jews. Between 1998 and 2009, 63% of cases were from the Beer Sheva and Acre health districts, which together comprise 15.5% of the Israeli population. Control programs--including efforts to combat brucellosis in animals and to discourage the sale of unpasteurized homemade dairy products--have met with partial success. Without routine vaccination of all family-owned flocks, more effective restraints on the market for unpasteurized dairy foods and improved regional cooperation, human brucellosis will continue to be a contained, but persistent, health problem in Israel due to cultural behavior, socioeconomic factors, and the regional political environment.

publication date

  • June 1, 2011