Bovine brucellosis is an important zoonotic disease in Albania. Both B. abortus and B. melitensis have been isolated from ruminants. National control and eradication programs for brucellosis are applied on sheep and goat farms and larger dairy cattle farms. However, the current control programs for brucellosis do not cover small dairy cattle farms, and there is no valid data on the prevalence of the disease in this category; this prevents formulating evidence-based and effective strategies for control of the disease in this population subset. Therefore, the current study aimed to assess the herd and within-herd prevalence of bovine brucellosis in small bovine herds and provide scientific evidence for establishing an evidence-based approach to control the disease in this subset of the population not previously included in the national eradication program. To achieve this objective, a statistical survey was designed and implemented in small dairy herds in the Lushnja district, where samples from statistically selected herds were serologically tested in parallel with Rose Bengal Test (RBT), Fluorescence Polarization Assay (FPA), and Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay (ELISA). In total, 120 dairy herds were randomly selected from a list of 1,955 registered herds: from these selected herds, 368 blood samples were collected from all animals older than 12 months, and their sera were tested using RBT, FPA, and c-ELISA. The test results revealed no positive or suspect cases. Based on these results, we are confident (P≤0.05) that Brucella spp is not circulating in this subpopulation of cattle in the Lushja district. This deduction is supported by analyses of the main risk factors, other epidemiological data, and the perceptions of official and private veterinarians. This is the first structured survey of bovine brucellosis in small dairy herds in Albania. In conclusion, our study results and our findings show that the epidemiological status of bovine brucellosis in the Lushnja district is encouraging. Therefore, a test and slaughter control program appears appropriate in smaller herds. Furthermore, the approach used in this pilot study could be extended to establish the prevalence of brucellosis in other districts, the result of which would establish the basis for rational control measures in the smaller herds of cattle.
Brucella abortus, Small dairy herd, Bovine brucellosis, Serology, Albania
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