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Isolation and molecular confirmation of Brucella suis biovar 2 from slaughtered pigs: an unanticipated biovar from domestic pigs in Egypt


Brucella suis is a zoonotic pathogen with a serious impact on public health and the pig industry worldwide. Information regarding B. suis in pigs in Egypt is scarce. This study aimed to investigate the prevalence of B. suis in slaughtered domestic pigs at El-Basatin abattoir in Cairo, Egypt. A total of 1,116 domestic pigs slaughtered in 2020 were sampled for Brucella isolation and identification. Identified Brucella isolates were molecularly confirmed at species, and biovar levels using Bruce ladder PCR and Suis ladder multiplex PCR. Additionally, high-risk practices of 16 abattoir workers (4 veterinarians, 10 butchering and evisceration workers, and 2 scalding workers) were investigated using a pre-piloted structured questionnaire.


Brucella isolates were recovered from 1.3% of examined pigs (n = 14) at consistently low rates (1.1—2.9%) across the year of sampling from February to December 2020. All isolates were confirmed as B. suis biovar (bv) 2. Remarkably, 92.9% (13/14) of isolates showed atypical ability to produce H2S and hence were considered as B. suis bv2 atypical phenotype. The prevalence was higher in males (1.8%) than in females (0.9). However, this difference was not significant (Odds ratio = 1.9; CI 95% 0.7 – 5.7; P = 0.2). No detectable pathological lesions were associated with B. suis bv2 infection in examined pigs. All strains were isolated from cervical lymph nodes, highlighting a potential oral transmission. High-risk practices were recorded among swine abattoir workers in this study: 75% do not wear gloves or disinfect their knives daily, and 18.8% were willing to work with open wound injuries.


To the best of our knowledge, this is the first isolation of B. suis bv2 in Egypt. Detection of H2S producing B. suis bv2 atypical phenotype is alarming as it may result in misinterpretation of these isolates as highly human pathogenic B. suis bv1 in Egypt and possibly elsewhere. Further epidemiological tracing studies are crucial for the detection of the origin of this biovar. Including pigs in the national surveillance program of brucellosis, and an education program for swine abattoir workers about occupational risk of B. suis is a need in Egypt.



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