Brucellosis is one of the most important zoonotic diseases worldwide that is of veterinarian, public health and economic importance. The pathogens, Brucella melitensis in small ruminants, B. abortus in cattle, and B. suis in swine are transmitted by direct contacts with infected animals and animal products and through the consumption of contaminated dairy products prepared from unpasteurized milk.
Brucellosis in livestock causes a range of problems including abortions, weak offspring and reduced productivity. Brucellosis in goat and cattle may be controlled by vaccination and measured to prevent the spread and transmission.
Human brucellosis can be a severe and disabling disease that may present with a wide variety of symptoms and signs that often persist and may lead to focal complications. A vaccine for human brucellosis does not exist and patients should be treated with a combination of antibiotics.
The diagnosis of brucellosis may be confirmed by blood culture and a range of serological tests including the Rose Bengal test, the serum agglutination test, Coombs and ELISA. Most facilities in developing countries lack the experience and facilities to work with this highly infectious pathogen and to perform the diagnostic tests. An early and correct diagnosis is essential for the treatment of human brucellosis.
A sensitive and specific diagnostic test: the Brucella IgM/IgG flow assay
KIT Biomedical Research has developed a sensitive and specific diagnostic test, the Brucella IgM/IgG flow assay, for the confirmation of human brucellosis. This assay is simply performed by testing a drop of blood collected by finger prick. As the test allows the detection of specific IgM as well as specific IgG antibodies a high sensitivity is assured for all stages of the disease.
Screening livestock for brucellosis in affected areas is important for the planning of vaccination campaigns. Testing livestock for brucellosis can be problematic in remote areas or when dealing with animals of nomadic communities because of difficulties with the labelling and tracing of animals and the logistics involved with the transporting of samples to a laboratory. To facilitate testing of livestock, the flow assay has been adapted for field testing blood samples from small ruminants, cattle and pig for the presence of specific antibodies. This has the advantage that testing can be done on the spot, the test result can be shown and explained to the owner, and measures can be discussed and implemented without delay.
Examples of the application of the Brucella IgM/IgG flow assay are the diagnosis of brucellosis cases among patients with persistent disease presenting at a health post in a remote rural area in Ethiopia and the identification of cases of brucellosis among household contacts of hospitalized patients with brucellosis during home visits in Peru.