Sheep Brucellosis in Kuwait: A Large-Scale Serosurvey, Identification of Brucella Species and Zoonotic Significance
Brucellosis is a common zoonotic disease of major concern in humans of Kuwait, and B. melitensis causes most human cases. The disease is endemic in small ruminants, cattle, and camels for decades, causing substantial economic losses in livestock production. However, a nationwide large-scale investigation of brucellosis in the small ruminant population has not been done in the past two decades. A serosurvey of sheep brucellosis in the five districts of Kuwait with most animal production farms was done between 2016 and 2019. In total, 67,054 serum samples from 233 sheep herds were collected and tested. Additionally, milk and tissue samples were collected from 46 seropositive cases for bacteriology. Thirty persons from seven seropositive farms were tested by serology. The incidence of seropositive cases was 7% in districts devoid of vaccination, while it was 4.7% in farms with history of vaccination. The serosurvey revealed that 89% of non-vaccinated herds (n = 181) were seropositive by Rose Bengal test (RBT), buffered acidified plate antigen test (BAPAT), and complement fixation test (CFT). Prevalence of 100% was reported for non-vaccinated sheep herds from Al-Wafrah and Al-Jahra districts, followed by those from Al-Salmi (88.24%), Al-Abdali (86.7%) and Kabd (75.6%). Implementation of vaccination with B. melitensis Rev.1 vaccine and test-and-slaughters in 20 herds reduced the seroprevalence to 33.3% and 25% in herds from Al-Jahra and AL-Wafrah, respectively. B. melitensis was isolated from 20 samples (43.5%). More than half of the examined animal owners (56.6%) tested positive for Brucella using RBT, BAPAT and CFT. The high numbers of infected herds and high prevalence in herdsmen are alarming. Thus, control measures have to be ensured immediately. The epidemiological situation in Kuwait is similar to those of the neighboring countries and the combined action of these states is needed. The understanding of the economic and public health impact of brucellosis in Kuwait needs to grow.