The seroprevalence of brucellosis and molecular characterization of Brucella species circulating in the beef cattle herds in Albania
BACKGROUND:Brucellosis is a ubiquitous zoonotic disease globally. It is endemic among bovines, sheep, and goats in Albania. The national control and eradication programs for brucellosis has been applied on sheep and goat farms as well as large dairy cattle farms, i.e., those with more than ten milking cows. The current study aims at estimating the herd and average individual animal prevalence of brucellosis in the national beef cattle herds, the missing information that was essential to propose the most appropriate control measures for this sub-population. Rose Bengal Test (RBT), Fluorescence Polarization Assay (FPA), and Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay (ELISA) were used as serological tests and classical bacteriology for isolation. Results were also used to investigate the difference in sensitivity between the assays used. METHODOLOGY:In total, 655 animals from 38 beef cattle herds from six southern districts of Albania were sampled. Sera were tested using RBT, FPA, and ELISA. Fifteen positive cows and a bull from eight high-prevalence positive herds were slaughtered, and particular tissue samples were collected for bacteriology. RESULTS:The overall herd seroprevalence in the tested beef cattle population was 55%, while the overall average within-herd prevalence (including only positive herds) was 38.3%, 42.7%, and 45.6% determined by the RBT, ELISA, and FPA, respectively. FPA was used for the first time in the diagnosis of bovine brucellosis in Albania, and its sensitivity was higher than RBT and ELISA. Three B. abortus strains were identified, two from the supra-mammary lymph node of two cows and one from the epididymis of a seropositive bull. CONCLUSION:Brucellosis was highly prevalent in beef cattle in the southern part of Albania, and B. abortus was isolated from this subpopulation. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first statistically based survey of bovine brucellosis in beef herds in Albania. Using the FPA in parallel with other serological tests improved overall diagnostic sensitivity. Test and slaughter policy is not a rational approach for the control of brucellosis in beef cattle in Albania, and vaccination is only applicable, including strict control of the movement of animals.