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Molecular Characterization of Brucella isolates from Cattle in Uganda

Brant Schumaker

Brant Schumaker, University of Wyoming

Publication Date: 2018
Department: Department of Veterinary Sciences 
Location: Uganda, specifically the National Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory (NADDEC), Ministry of Agriculture and Makerere University College of Veterinary Medicine 
Team: Six members of the UW, Infectious Disease Epidemiology of Animals (I.D.E.A. lab) will travel to Uganda to undertake this work in collaboration with Borlaug Fellow Stella Atim and other Ugandan animal disease experts


Research Question
What are the circulating strains of brucellosis in domestic ruminants in Uganda? What is the field accuracy of novel brucellosis diagnostic tests in Uganda?

Brucellosis is a notifiable zoonotic disease affecting people, livestock, and wildlife globally causing significant human suffering and serious economic losses in livestock and wildlife. Whereas brucellosis has been successfully controlled in livestock populations in high-income countries, the disease is endemic and neglected in low income countries with large disease burden in animals and humans and no effective control.

Whereas the government of Uganda has instituted brucellosis control measures such as enhanced surveillance, vaccination, treatment and public sensitization, recent reports indicate an upsurge in brucellosis infections in both livestock and human populations necessitating better control strategies. For this reason, the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries is collaborating with the University of Wyoming to build capacity of staff in brucellosis disease surveillance and diagnostics through a Borlaug fellowship for Stella Atim, senior veterinary officer at the National Veterinary Laboratory in Entebbe, Uganda.

Methods Used
One farm with previous history of brucellosis infection in cattle will be purposively selected and arrangement will be made to visit the farm for sampling. The group will also do a rapid herd health assessment as an incentive to the farmer. Cow/heifers with the history of repeat breeding and abortions will be selected for sampling. Blood samples collected from probable brucellosis cases will be screened using RBPT/card test in the field and ELISA later in the laboratory using commercially available ELISA kits.

Five seropositive cattle will be procured from the farmer, milk samples will be collected from lactating cows and later necropsy done to obtain tissues for isolation of Brucella. Genomic DNA will be extracted, probes, primers and reaction mix will be used to run a real time PCR using a set protocol on Strategen 3000Pmx. The PCR products will be purified and sequenced and analyzed to determine circulating Brucella strains. The field performance of novel diagnostic tests for brucellosis in Uganda will be determined.

The ultimate outcome of this research is to improve the surveillance and control of brucellosis at a herd level in Uganda through improvement in brucellosis diagnostics at the National Veterinary Laboratory. This research project will generate preliminary data that can be used to develop bigger studies to characterize Brucella strains and disease burden in communities. This is the first step to develop a cost-effective comprehensive Brucellosis control strategy for Uganda.

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