Comparison of diagnostic tests for the detection of Brucella spp. in camel sera
Background: Brucellosis in livestock causes enormous losses for economies of developing countries and poses a severe health risk to consumers of dairy products. Little information is known especially on camel brucellosis and its impact on human health. For surveillance and control of the disease, sensitive and reliable detection methods are needed. Although serological tests are the mainstay of diagnosis in camel brucellosis, these tests have been directly transposed from cattle without adequate validation. To date, little information on application of real-time PCR for detection of Brucella in camel serum is available. Therefore, this study was performed to compare the diagnostic efficiency of different serological tests and real-time PCR in order to identify the most sensitive, rapid and simple combination of tests for detecting Brucella infection in camels. Findings: A total of 895 serum samples collected from apparently healthy Sudanese camels was investigated. Sudan is a well documented endemic region for brucellosis with cases in humans, ruminants, and camels. Rose Bengal Test (RBT), Complement Fixation Test (CFT), Slow Agglutination Test (SAT), Competitive Enzyme Linked Immunosorbant Assay (cELISA) and Fluorescence Polarization Assay (FPA) as well as real-time PCR were used. Our findings revealed that bcsp31 kDa real-time PCR detected Brucella DNA in 84.8% (759/895) of the examined samples, of which 15.5% (118/759) were serologically negative. Our results show no relevant difference in sensitivity between the different serological tests. FPA detected the highest number of positive cases (79.3%) followed by CFT (71.4%), RBT (70.7%), SAT (70.6%) and cELISA (68.8%). A combination of real-time PCR with one of the used serological tests identified brucellosis in more than 99% of the infected animals. 59.7% of the examined samples were positive in all serological tests and real-time PCR. A subpopulation of 6.8% of animals was positive in all serological tests but negative in real-time PCR assays. The high percentage of positive cases in this study does not necessarily reflect the seroprevalence of the disease in the country but might be caused by the fact that the camels were imported from brucellosis infected herds of Sudan, accidentally. Seroprevalence of brucellosis in camels should be examined in confirmatory studies to evaluate the importance of brucellosis in this animal species. Conclusion: We suggest combining bcsp31 real-time PCR with either FPA, CFT, RBT or SAT to screen camels for brucellosis.