Brucellosis is arguably one of the most prevalent zoonoses shared between livestock and humans worldwide. This is especially true in countries of the former Soviet Union, where veterinary public health was weakened by the financial collapse associated with the transition to independence in the early 1990s. To better understand the burden of disease in the country of Georgia, SEER Lab partnered with the Laboratory of the Ministry of Agriculture in Tbilisi, Louisiana State University’s Ag Center, and Walter Reed Army Institute of Research to estimate livestock sero-prevalence across three known regions of high endemicity. LMA conducted a livestock serological survey seasonally from 2008-2011 in each of the three regions. Sero-prevalence was estimated for each region and adjusted for true prevelance using a Bayesian model that adjusts for the imperfection associated with the chosen diagnostic test. Additionally, this collaborative team implemented a bacteriology algorithm to recover Brucella spp. bacteria, the causative agents of brucellosis, from blood and milk samples collected as part of the serological survey. The study revealed regional differences in sero-prevalence that can be used by local public and veterinary health officials to set priorities for surveillance and control. The bacteria recovered are now being used as part of a larger ecological and phylogeographic study to understand the molecular epidemiology of the organism associated with human and animal disease. This study of is one of a few to directly illustrate the relationship be sero-prevalence and culture recovery by tissue type that should also assist diagnostic laboratories in determine best practices for recoverying the organism and improving laboratory operating procedures. The results of the serological survey and bacteriology effort were recently published in the Journal Preventative Veterinary Medicine.
This project was funded by the US Defense Threat Reduction Agency’s Cooperative Biological Engagement Program.