The Stanly News and Press (Albemarle, NC)

Opinion & Letters to the Editor

November 10, 2013

Rock Doc: Undulant fever in cattle and people

Sunday, November 10, 2013 — Normally, when a bacterium invades your body, it’s surrounded and engulfed by a white blood cell. If all goes well, the white blood cell kills the bacterium.

But a few bacteria have some tricks up their sleeves. One of them is the rod-shaped Brucella bacterium, the agent that causes brucellosis, or what is sometimes known as "undulant fever" because it causes people to run debilitating fevers that wax and wane over long periods of time.

Untreated, brucellosis makes people sick for years. Over time, the bacteria settle in the joints where they can do real damage. Both literally and figuratively, brucellosis is a crippling disease.

People get the malady from farm animals like cattle and goats that are infected. Often it’s unpasteurized milk that transmits the disease.

“Raw milk is quite risky in terms of spreading the infection from cattle to people,” Dr. Jean Celli told me recently. Celli is a new researcher at the Paul G. Allen School for Global Animal Health at Washington State University. He studies brucellosis, including how it behaves in the white blood cells of animals and people.

When the brucellosis bacterium is engulfed by a white blood cell, it hides inside a compartment of the cell called the endoplasmic reticulum (ER for short). Normally a white blood cell would kill a bacterium, but once one is inside the ER the white blood cell is hampered in any further response to the invader.

“The brucellosis bacterium multiplies in the ER,” Celli told me. “It can also be transported by the white blood cells and spread elsewhere in the body.”

In this country, people who are diagnosed with the disease take antibiotics for several weeks and are generally able to put the disease behind them. But the situation is different in the developing world. In the first place, making the diagnosis is not simple. The symptoms – fever and fatigue – are the same as for some other diseases, including influenza and malaria. To make a rigorous diagnosis, doctors must culture samples of blood or bone marrow. That requires good laboratory work.

Text Only
Opinion & Letters to the Editor
  • D.G. Martin Read others’ views to be better informed, decide for yourself

    “I don’t read The Washington Post. That is not where I get my ideas.”

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • Patrick Gannon This isn’t medical marijuana

    As state legislators debated allowing the use of an extract from marijuana plants to treat seizure disorders over the past couple of weeks, it was evident that social conservatives – there are many of them in the General Assembly – felt a tinge of unease about it, even as almost every one of them voted yes.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • Doug Creamer Friends and contentment

    Last week I made my annual trip up the mountain to Sparta. My friends have a secluded home near a babbling brook. Their home and property are a haven for peace. It’s a two-plus hour ride to their home that doesn’t feel that long because I look so forward to my time with this great couple. When I arrive, the conversation seems to pick up right where we left it the last time we saw each other.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • Thanks for the honest deed

    I would like to thank the person that found my wallet in the parking lot of Harris Teeter on July 23 and turned it in to the Albemarle Police.

    July 29, 2014

  • cleaning supplies Don't judge mothers with messy homes

    I was building shelves in my garage when a neighbor girl, one of my 4-year-old daughter's friends, approached me and said, "I just saw in your house. It's pretty dirty. Norah's mommy needs to clean more."

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • We need your help

    Hurray for the Albemarle City Council. Council plans to battle N.C. Department of Transportation’s ranking of all 13 projects in Stanly County to the bottom of their priority list. Council is setting up petitions in various city buildings for citizens to sign.

    July 28, 2014

  • Council asks veterans to seek office

    The terms of office for the leaders of the Stanly County Veterans Council ended June 30. A call is being sent to veterans council members requesting candidates for the four elective offices of the council. A meeting has been set for 6:30 p.m. Aug. 12 at the DAV building. All council members are urged to attend.

    July 28, 2014

  • Mike Walden The gains and gaps in our economy

    Twice a year, I pull out my cloudy crystal ball and attempt to make some predictions about the direction and pace of the North Carolina economy. I just finished my latest effort and, as usual, the results are a combination of pluses and minuses.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • Jason O. Boyd Yellow journalism takes on new form, people are dumber for it

    Time to get on the soapbox for a few minutes.
    Let me clear my throat. Eh ... hem!
    People are dumb.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • Brent Laurenz Special election adds to the mix

    RALEIGH – A busy slate of judicial elections this November got even busier recently when Judge John Martin of the N.C. Court of Appeals announced his retirement.
    A special statewide election to fill Martin’s seat will be added to the general election ballot, joining the four N.C. Supreme Court seats and three N.C. Court of Appeals races already slated for this fall.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

House Ads
Seasonal Content