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J R Soc Med. 2006 February; 99(2): 54.
PMCID: PMC1360483

History of brucellosis

We read with interest Dr Wyatt's article (October 2005 JRSM1) on Zammit's discovery that brucellosis was transmitted by goat milk. We would like to add the names of some other people who were involved in the research.

First, Dr Carruana-Secluna, who accompanied Zammit to Chadwick Lakes, carried out a great deal of work for Sir David Bruce—he prepared the agar plates and the culture media and cultured the causative organism from the spleen samples of fatal cases. He never received proper recognition for his work and Sir David Bruce did not allow him to be co-author on any publications. Secondly, Surgeon Captain M. Louis Hughes assisted Bruce in his studies and first named the disease `undulant fever'. He also named the organism Micrococcus melitensis, although he was wrong about the source of infection, believing it to be resident in the soil and inhaled by the human. Hughes was killed in the Boer war at the age of 32.

Sir David's wife Lady Bruce was a trained microbiologist, and took an active part in her husband's research, including the exquisite illustrations to his papers.2

Finally, it is worth noting that Zammit was knighted—an honour given for his work.

References

1. Wyatt HV. How Themistocles Zammit found Malta fever (brucellosis) to be transmitted by the milk of goats. J R Soc Med 2005;98: 451-4 [PMC free article] [PubMed]
2. Madkour M Monir. Madkour's Brucellosis, 2nd edn. Berlin: Springer, 2001

Articles from Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine are provided here courtesy of Royal Society of Medicine Press