MSD Manual

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Professional Version

Brucellosis in Goats


John WA Larsen

, BVSc, PhD, Faculty of Veterinary and Agricultural Sciences, University of Melbourne

Reviewed/Revised May 2023 | Modified Jun 2023

The clinical signs of brucellosis in goats are similar to those in cattle Brucellosis in Cattle Infection with Brucella abortus can cause abortion, birth of stillborn or weak calves, retained placenta, and reduced milk production. Infected cattle usually abort only once but can... read more . The disease is prevalent in most countries in which goats are an important food-producing animal, and milk is a common source of brucellosis in humans (known as Malta fever) in many countries. The causal agent is Brucella melitensis, which is found in the Mediterranean region of southern Europe, west and central Asia, Mexico, central and southern America, and Africa. Infection occurs primarily via ingestion of the organisms. The disease causes abortion, typically in the final 2 months of pregnancy. Arthritis and orchitis may also occur. Diagnosis is made by means of tissue culture or PCR testing of milk or an aborted fetus (fetal stomach samples), or by serologic testing (mainly the Rose Bengal and complement fixation). The disease can be eliminated by culling of the herd. In most countries where B melitensis is endemic, vaccination of young (3- to 8-month-old) sheep and goats with the Rev. 1 strain is common. Rev. 1 is an attenuated strain of B melitensis and is administered via SC or intraconjunctival routes. B melitensis is highly pathogenic in humans and can cause abortion in pregnant animals.

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