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A human and animal health risk

One of the most infectious diseases affecting bovines

High prevalence in developing world
Risk of spread to farm workers
No cost-effective treatments currently available


Brucellosis is a bacterial reproductive disease that causes abortions in cattle, sheep, goats and pigs. Though eradicated in many developed nations, brucellosis is still prevalent in much of Asia, Africa and Latin America. Bovine brucellosis is undiagnosable by sight alone. One of the main symptoms is premature calving or abortion, as well as other reproductive problems, but this is common to many diseases. There are many Brucella species, with different ones infecting different animal species. Brucellosis also occurs in humans and is symptomatically similar to flu. Pregnant women and their unborn children are particularly at risk of miscarriage and birth defects. Due to emerging antimicrobial resistance, treatment regimens can be long and difficult, and there is currently no effective human vaccine. 

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On livestock farms, outbreaks are usually begin with the introduction of an infected animal imported from an at-risk region. The disease is usually spread between animals through the ingestion of infected foetal membranes and the afterbirth of abortion or birth. Transmission can also occur from mother to calf by the ingestion of contaminated milk. Less commonly Brucella-infected sperm from bulls can infect cows when servicing or via artificial insemination. 

Disease impact

In much of the world brucellosis remains a major public health concern. India is perhaps the worst affected with $3.4 billion per year lost in animal productivity and $10.4 million per year lost due to human illnesses. Latin America and China also suffer from significant brucellosis prevalence and the resulting economic burden. The last UK outbreak was in Cornwall in 2004, likely due to an imported bull. Previously, in Scotland in 2003, imported breeding cattle from the Republic of Ireland caused an outbreak that led to the slaughter of 384 cattle and a cost of £500,000.

In the UK regulations dictate that all cattle that have been in contact with an infected animal must be culled. Therefore, it is important to quarantine imported animals until negative test results are received or until an animal’s first calving. Presently UK surveillance relies on blood testing of imported cattle, monitoring of abortions, and bulk milk testing of herds every 3 months, with blood tests following positive milk results. 

How Biotangents are tackling brucellosis

Prevention of disease outbreaks is the first step in combating brucellosis. Biotangents' Moduleic Sensing™ VET system will allow the accurate diagnosis of brucellosis on site, facilitating the screening of new animals before their introduction to the herd. This will minimise quarantine time, cost and the risk of brucellosis outbreaks in herds.


In suspected brucellosis cases, fast diagnostic decisions are essential to containing the spread of disease. By using Moduleic Sensing™ VET, results will be rapidly achieved on site, allowing the removal of contagious animals from the herd and preventing further disease spread.

For laboratory sample testing, Moduleic Sensing™ LAB allows PCR-quality testing to be conducted without the cost of equipment or technical complexities. This offers a more cost-effective high throughput diagnostic solution regardless of laboratory complexity.

National disease management schemes

For more disease and herd management information as well as ways to get involved in your regional eradication schemes talk to your veterinarian and visit  the links below:​


  1. Millar M, Stack J. (2012) Brucellosis – what every practitioner should know. In Practice. 2012;34(9):532-539.

  2. Neta A, Mol J, Xavier M, Paixão T, Lage A, Santos R. (2010) Pathogenesis of bovine brucellosis. The Veterinary Journal. 2010;184(2):146-155.

  3. Lopes LB, Nicolino R, Haddad JPA (2010) Brucellosis - Risk Factors and Prevalence: A Review. The Open Veterinary Science Journal 4(1):72-84.

  4. Ran X, Cheng J, Wang M, Chen X, Wang H, Ge Y et al. (2018) Brucellosis seroprevalence in dairy cattle in China during 2008–2018: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Acta Tropica 189:117-123.

  5. Singh B, Dhand N, Gill J (2015) Economic losses occurring due to brucellosis in Indian livestock populations. Preventive Veterinary Medicine 119(3-4):211-215.

  6. Singh B, Khatkar M, Aulakh R, Gill J, Dhand N (2018) Estimation of the health and economic burden of human brucellosis in India. Preventive Veterinary Medicine 154:148-155.

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