The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) yesterday warned the public against eating raw or unsterilized foods when traveling after a woman who took a tour to northern Africa and ate raw meat and cheese there was recently diagnosed with brucellosis.
CDC Deputy Director Chou Chih-hao (周志浩) said that a 54-year-old woman living in northern Taiwan fell sick after returning home from a trip to Algeria and Morocco in February and March, where she came into contact with camels and other animals and consumed raw beef, raw lamb and cheese.
Last month, after having returned home, the woman developed a fever, muscle pain and abnormal liver functions. After seeking medical help and informing her doctor of her travel history, she was diagnosed with brucellosis. After receiving treatment at a hospital, she has now recovered, Chou said.
Brucellosis is caused by contact with animals or animal products, such as unpasteurized dairy products or raw meat, from animals carrying the Brucella bacteria. Human-to-human transmission is rare.
CDC officials immediately contacted 23 other Taiwanese who were in the same tour group. Tests showed none of the others had contracted the disease.
Common symptoms of brucellosis include inconstant fever, muscle pain, headaches, profuse sweating, abdominal pain, feeling of exhaustion and back pain, Chou said. The disease may affect a person for anywhere from a few weeks to many months or even years.
The CDC said that those who experience such symptoms, especially after traveling to high-risk areas such as the Middle East, Mediterranean countries, north and east Africa and Central and South America, should immediately seek medical attention.
Those who plan to visit such areas should also avoid consuming raw or unsterilized foods such as ice cream, cheese or yogurt made with unpasteurized milk, health officials said.
Chou said that coming into contact with secretions from infected animals could also cause contraction of the disease, but that this form of infection is not as common as eating raw foods from infected sources.
Those who have pets at home, but have not traveled to high-risk countries need not worry, the CDC said.
The first reported case of human brucellosis in Taiwan was documented in 1978 by a person who became infected while engaged in laboratory work. Brucellosis is listed as a reportable communicable disease in Taiwan.