The Dutch national Brucella abortus eradication programme for cattle started in 1959. Sporadic cases occurred yearly until 1995; the last infected herd was culled in 1996. In August 1999 the Netherlands was declared officially free of bovine brucellosis by the European Union. Before 1999, the programme to monitor the official Brucella-free status of bovine herds was primarily based on periodical testing of dairy herds with the milk ring test (MRT) and serological testing of all animals older than I year of age from non-dairy herds, using the micro-agglutination test (MAT) as screening test. In addition, serum samples of cattle that aborted were tested with the MAT. The high number of false positive reactions in both tests and the serum agglutination test (SAT) and complement fixation test (CFT) used for confirmation seemed to result in unnecessary blockade of herds, subsequent testing and slaughter of animals. For this reason, a validation study was performed in which three indirect enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISAs), the CFT and the SAT were compared using a panel of sera from brucellosis-free cattle, sera from experimentally infected cattle, and sera from cattle experimentally infected with bacteria which are known to induce cross-reactive antibodies (Pasteurella, Salmonella, Yersinia, and Escherichia). Moreover, four ELISAs and the MRT were compared using a panel of 1000 bulk milk samples from Brucella-free herds and 12 milk samples from Brucella abortus- infected cattle. It is concluded that the ELISA obtained from ID-Lelystad is the most suitable test to monitor the brucelosis free status of herds because it gives rise to fewer false-positive reactions than the SAT.
- bovine brucellosis