The frequent failure of clinical laboratories to correctly identify isolates as brucellae is particularly worrisome because these organisms are regarded as potential agents for bioterrorism.
The probable source of the infection is usually apparent when disease occurs in laboratories where isolation of brucellae is rare (21).
More commonly, exposures are the result of unsafe laboratory practices, such as sniffing plates (8,24,26,29,34); working on an open bench with viable organisms (14,16,17,20,22); not using protective equipment such as gloves, masks, and goggles (34); or ingesting suspensions of living brucellae during mouth pipetting (3).
In the United States, organisms presumptively identified as brucellae should be sent to CDC or another public health laboratory following the specific guidelines for transferring "select agents.
8) Because brucellae are relatively slow-growing bacteria, cultures for the organism have been traditionally kept for several weeks.
Because of the high attack rate of brucellosis among exposed workers, the unpredictable and often chronic course of the disease, and the difficulties in eradicating the organism once a symptomatic infection has been established, postexposure prophylaxis is probably indicated for all persons alter an obvious exposure to living brucellae (26).