In a study to determine the prevalence of Brucella antibodies in horses and knowledge, attitude and practices of groomers, blood samples for serum were collected from 304 horses of various breeds, sexes, age – groupsand purposes (uses) in three Local Government Areas of Kaduna State, Nigeria. The samples were analysed using Rose Bengal Plate Test (RBPT) and Serum Agglutination Test – EDTA (SAT – EDTA). The knowledge, attitudes and practices of the groomers in the various stables under study were determined using a structured questionnaire. From the study, the overall seroprevalences was 5.59%and 20.07% using RBPT and SAT-EDTA respectively. The seroprevalences by breed were 11.9% and 12.70% by RBPT and SAT-EDTA respectively for Arewa breed, 1.69% and 28.81% by RBPT and SAT-EDTA respectively for Argentine breed, 0.00% and 21.74% by RBPT and SAT-EDTA respectively for Sudanese breed and 0.00% and 16.21% by RBPT and SAT-EDTA respectively for Talon breed of horses. The corresponding seroprevalences by sex were 0.84% and 29.41% for females and 8.65% and 14.05% for males. The seroprevalences by age-group were 8.33%, 8.97%, 0.99% and 2.94% for 1 to 5 years old, 6 to 10 years old, 11 to 15 years old and above 15 years old respectively using the RBPT. Respective seroprevalences by purpose were 11.82%, 1.34%, and 2.22% for ceremonial, polo and racing horses using the RBPT. From the structured questionnaire, 37.50% of the respondents were aware of brucellosis and 22.50% ascribed their sources of information on the disease to be the media, 10.00% of the experienced groomers among the respondents and 5.00% professionals who attended to the veterinary care of their horses.
Of the respondents, 12.50% knew brucellosis to be zoonotic disease contracted through ingestion and 2.50% through contact. Considering clinical signs, 12.50% and 7.50% respectively reported night sweats and fever as clinical signs of brucellosis in man. Considering attitude of respondents towards brucellosis, 15.00% of the respondents reported lending out stallions for breeding, 2.50% did not borrow stallions for breeding because they considered brucellosis and trichomoniasis being reproductive diseases that could result through the use infected stallions. The study also reported 52.50% and 40.00%of the respondents were in the habit of lending and borrowing grooming tools respectively, even though they regarded such acts as capable of causing diseases like ulcerative lymphangitis (95.00%), ringworm (72.50%), dermatophilosis (5.00%) and thrush (7.50%). Similarly, 67.50% of the respondents participated in durbar and other tournaments and reported such participation to result in diseases and conditions like ulcerative lymphangitis (25.00%) and wounds (27.50%). The study further showed that,50.00% of the respondents were grazing their horses where other animals grazed and even where there were reports of abortions by such animals without their horses coming down with brucellosis. All the respondents reported giving their horses‟ routine veterinary medical care, especially on babesiosis. From the study, it was concluded that Brucella antibodies were circulating in the blood of the sampled horses and that there were breed predisposition to the infection. Males were more seroprevalent than females while seropositivity increased with the age of the horses. There is the need to conduct further studies to determine the Brucella spp circulating among horses in the study area particularly that horses have been reported to graze on pastures where other animals had previously grazed and had history of abortions.
1.1 Background to the Study
Brucellosis is a highly contagious, zoonotic, and economically important bacterial disease of animals and humans worldwide (OIE, 2000). It is also one of the most important infectious causes of reproductive disorders in domestic animals (OIE, 2000). The disease is also called contagious abortion, infectious abortion, and epizootic abortion. In horses it is called “fistulous withers” and “poll evil” (Megid et al., 2010; Rust, 2012). In cattle, it is called „Bang‟s Disease‟ in tribute to the Danish veterinarian who was the pioneer in the study of the disease in this species (Megid et al., 2010; Rust, 2012). The disease in humans is called “Malta fever”, “Mediterranean fever” and “Gibraltar fever” according to the region in which the illness was first described (Megidet al., 2010; Rust, 2012). It is also known as undulating fever due to the oscillating temperature presented by infected persons. Clinical signs vary according to the animal species that is being infected and the infecting Brucella species (Rust, 2012).
Brucellosis is caused by members of the genus Brucella which is a Gram negative, facultative intracellular bacterium and can infect many animal species and man (Corbel, 1997; Young, 2000). Members of the genus are small (0.5-0.7 by 0.6-1.5µm), non-motile, encapsulated, and coccobacilli (Ryan and Ray, 2004). Genetically, ten species of the genus Brucella have been documented and they include B.abortus, B. melitensis, B. suis, B. ovis, B. canis, and B. neotome, B pinipedialis, B ceti, B muris and B inapinata. However, cross-species infections by these Brucella species have been reported (Foster et al., 2007). For example, cattle can be infected by both B. abortus and B. melitensis at the same time (Abdulssalam and Fein, 1976). Brucella abortus is the species of Brucella documented to cause brucellosis in horses (Kaltungo et al., 2013).