Of 400 patients with brucellosis, 104 (26%) had arthritis, of whom 96 could be followed up. The systemic disease in the 96 patients was acute in 54 (56%), subacute in 24 (25%), and chronic in 18 (19%). The main presenting symptoms were joint pain, fever, sweating, and easy fatigability. The joints most commonly affected were the sacroiliac joint (26%) and knee (25%) followed by hip (18%) and spine (8%). There was no particular pattern of joint affection in relation to age. Joint effusion occurred in 32/104 (30%) of cases, predominantly (94%) in the acute group. Culture of synovial fluid was negative in all, and analysis of synovial fluid for cellular profile, glucose, and protein content was not particularly helpful in diagnosis. Plain radiographs did not show major pathological changes. Among the laboratory tests, including haematological and liver function tests, the brucella enzyme linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) was the most reliable in the diagnosis of disease, using serum and synovial fluid specimens. Treatment with a combination of streptomycin plus tetracyclines or rifampicin resulted in an excellent cure rate and resolution of arthritis without sequelae or mortality. Thus brucellosis should be considered in the differential diagnosis of arthritis, especially in areas in which the disease is endemic.
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