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Brucellosis in Egypt is an endemic disease among animals and humans. In endemic developing countries, dairy products produced from untreated milk are a potential threat to public health. The aim of this study was to detect brucellae in milk and milk products produced from apparently healthy animals to estimate the prevalence of contamination.
Two hundred and fifteen unpasteurized milk samples were collected from apparently healthy cattle (n = 72) and buffaloes (n = 128) reared on small farms, and from milk shops (n = 15) producing dairy products for human consumption. All milk samples were examined by indirect enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (iELISA) and real-time PCR (RT-PCR) to detect Brucella antibodies and Brucella-specific DNA, respectively.
Using iELISA, anti-Brucella antibodies were detected in 34 samples (16%), while RT-PCR amplified Brucella-specific DNA from 17 milk samples (7.9%). Species-specific IS711 RT-PCR identified 16 of the RT-PCR-positive samples as containing B. melitensis DNA; 1 RT-PCR-positive sample was identified as containing B. abortus DNA.
The detection of Brucella DNA in milk or milk products sold for human consumption, especially the highly pathogenic species B. melitensis, is of obvious concern. The shedding of Brucella spp. in milk poses an increasing threat to consumers in Egypt. Consumption of dairy products produced from non-pasteurized milk by individual farmers operating under poor hygienic conditions represents an unacceptable risk to public health.