Brucellosis, a bacterial disease caused by organisms in the genus Brucella, is an important zoonosis and a significant cause of reproductive losses in animals. The current members of this genus include Brucella abortus, B. melitensis, B. suis and B. ovis in livestock. Other species affect dogs, marine mammals, and wild rodents. Most species of Brucella circulate in a limited number of reservoir hosts, but other animals can be infected, especially when they are in close contact. People infected with brucellae may suffer from a debilitating nonspecific illness or localized involvement of various organs.

Cattle are the commonest reservoir hosts for B. abortus, but a few other species including water buffalo, bison, and African buffalo can also maintain this organism. Sheep and goats are the usual hosts for B. melitensis. B. ovis is mainly a pathogen of sheep and also circulates in captive red deer in New Zealand. B. suis biovars 1 and 3 are mainly found in domesticated and feral pigs, and other biovars of B. suis are found in wild boar, caribou and reindeer, and in wild rodents.

Brucellosis is an important zoonotic disease and is sometimes referred to as a neglected disease of humans. The worldwide economic losses due to brucellosis are extensive not only in animal production but also in human health. It is common in developing countries where people live in close proximity to their flocks and herds and is considered a ‘One-health’ issue. STAR-IDAZ IRC is developing a roadmap to identify research gaps and control the disease.

The current state of brucellosis research is covered in the Annual state-of-the art report on animal health research on IRC priorities.

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