More efficient serological tests to track the evolution of an infection that is garnering increasing international attention


Canine brucellosis, an infectious disease caused by the Brucella canis bacterium, is becoming a growing concern, not only for dog lovers and for breeders, but potentially also for human health. Rapidly identifying cases and monitoring the progression of infections is thus a crucial step in better understanding the pathology and the microorganism.


A definitive diagnosis of canine brucellosis can be made only with the isolation of the bacterium in the blood of the suspected infected animal (the so-called “gold standard”). However, directly identifying the microorganism requires complex bacteriological and molecular techniques, which are time-consuming and not well suited when dealing with a large population of dogs, such as in a breeding facility. There are also indirect methods, the so-called serological ones, which aim to identify antibodies against the bacterium in the animal's blood. A team of researchers from the Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale di Teramo (IZS-TE) has now conducted a study aimed at making faster and more efficient the diagnosis of this disease (a real challenge for veterinarians and animal health operators) developing a diagnostic protocol involving the combination of three serological tests.


“Serological methods - says Chiara Di Pancrazio, health researcher and corresponding author of the paper - can be faster and simpler to perform; but the existing ones have limitations because of poor accuracy and result uncertainty, especially due to a lack of validation. That is why our study aimed to evaluate three serological tests (named mSAT, B. ovis-CFT, and IFAT) compared with the isolation of the bacterium.


The opportunity for this research, published in the scientific journal Microorganism, came from an outbreak of Brucella canis in an Italian dog breeding facility in 2020. The management of that episode, with several analyses performed on the animals, allowed for a large number of biological samples, which the researchers were able to use for evaluating the diagnostic methods.


“The three serological tests we used - continues Fabrizia Perletta, health researcher and first author of the paper - have shown promising levels of sensitivity and specificity. In fact, when applied in combination, there is a significant improvement in serological diagnosis.”


The importance of this study goes beyond simple diagnosis. Canine brucellosis, which can cause a range of reproductive complications in dogs, has a global impact, with cases reported in Central and South America, the southern United States, Asia, and even some European countries. Moreover, given its potential transmission to humans, there is growing concern for public health. Humans can indeed contract the disease through direct contact with infected dogs or their secretions. Although human cases are limited, better and faster diagnosis will be a crucial tool for controlling and managing this pathology in the coming years.




Perletta, F., Di Pancrazio, C., Rodomonti, D., Di Febo, T., Luciani, M., Krasteva, I. M., ... & Tittarelli, M. (2023). Evaluation of Three Serological Tests for Diagnosis of Canine Brucellosis. Microorganisms, 11(9), 2162.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.3390/microorganisms11092162


Fabrizia Perletta


Chiara Di Pancrazio


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