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First record of the human infection of Brucella melitensis in Kyrgyzstan: evidence from whole-genome sequencing-based analysis


Brucellosis, a zoonosis mainly transmitted by consumption of unpasteurized dairy products as well as direct contact with infected animals, is endemic in Kyrgyzstan. However, Brucella species in humans have not been investigated and the origin of the disease remains poorly known in wide parts of Сentral Asia. Thus, molecular characterization of the circulating strains is a critical first step in understanding Brucella diversity in the country.


In this study, isolates were collected from patients with suspected brucellosis from different regions in Kyrgyzstan between 2019 and 2020. The detection and identification of Brucella was carried out by Bruce-ladder PCR. Next generation sequencing was used to sequence the 89 Brucella isolates, which were genotyped by cgSNP and cgMLST to identify epidemiological connection between Brucella isolates as well as placing them in the context of the global Brucella phylogeny.


The Brucella strains isolated from all regions of Kyrgyzstan were identified as B. melitensis. Based on cgSNP analysis, 18 sequence types were differentiated. The highest numbers of different sequence types were found in Batken (n = 8), Osh (n = 8) and Jalal-Abad (n = 6) oblasts. According to cgSNP and cgMLST analyses, different B. melitensis lineages circulate in Kyrgyzstan, all of them belonging to the Eastern Mediterranean group of the global Brucella phylogeny with the highest similarity to strains from Turkmenistan, Iran and Turkey.


In the present study, B. melitensis was identified as a causative agent of human brucellosis in Kyrgyzstan and different lineages could be identified. Since this study focused on isolates of human origin, the identity of Brucella species and lineages circulating among animal populations remains elusive. Implementing culture techniques and use of most recent molecular, bioinformatic and epidemiological tools are needed to set up a One Health approach to combat brucellosis in Kyrgyzstan. Further, other Сentral Asian countries need to take part in this effort as brucellosis is a transboundary disease in these regions.



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