Department

Veterinary Sciences

First Advisor

Brant Schumaker

Second Advisor

Noah Hull

Description

Brucellosis is an important zoonotic disease caused by bacteria of the genus Brucella. There are an estimated 5,000,000 human cases of the disease reported annually. In 1934 the United States created the State-Federal Cooperative Brucellosis Eradication plan to eradicate brucellosis from domestic livestock. This plan was largely successful in eliminating the disease from most of the country. However, elk and bison in the Greater Yellowstone Area still serve as reservoirs of the disease, which has led to spillovers in Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana livestock. Current diagnostics for brucellosis include serologic tests and isolation of the bacteria by culture, but both methods are unreliable to a certain extent because they can produce false positives, and take a long time to confirm. In contrast, quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) assays have proven to be very sensitive and specific when identifying infectious agents in biological samples. Additionally, qPCR can yield a diagnostic result in a matter of hours, while compared to the gold standard of culture, which can take weeks. QPCR has been used previously to diagnose brucellosis, but it has not been widely implemented due to a wide range of sensitivities outside of the laboratory that validated the assay. It is the overall objective of this project to develop, validate, and implement an ante-mortem qPCR assay for Brucella abortus. A new diagnostic test would benefit both producers and the state by saving them transport, quarantine costs, depopulation of false positive animals, as well as reducing the possibility of transmission within the herd.

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The Validation of a Novel qPCR Assay for Brucellosis

Brucellosis is an important zoonotic disease caused by bacteria of the genus Brucella. There are an estimated 5,000,000 human cases of the disease reported annually. In 1934 the United States created the State-Federal Cooperative Brucellosis Eradication plan to eradicate brucellosis from domestic livestock. This plan was largely successful in eliminating the disease from most of the country. However, elk and bison in the Greater Yellowstone Area still serve as reservoirs of the disease, which has led to spillovers in Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana livestock. Current diagnostics for brucellosis include serologic tests and isolation of the bacteria by culture, but both methods are unreliable to a certain extent because they can produce false positives, and take a long time to confirm. In contrast, quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) assays have proven to be very sensitive and specific when identifying infectious agents in biological samples. Additionally, qPCR can yield a diagnostic result in a matter of hours, while compared to the gold standard of culture, which can take weeks. QPCR has been used previously to diagnose brucellosis, but it has not been widely implemented due to a wide range of sensitivities outside of the laboratory that validated the assay. It is the overall objective of this project to develop, validate, and implement an ante-mortem qPCR assay for Brucella abortus. A new diagnostic test would benefit both producers and the state by saving them transport, quarantine costs, depopulation of false positive animals, as well as reducing the possibility of transmission within the herd.