According to the latest reports, travelling, migration and lower control on dairy products’ import may result in a spread of Brucellosis infection in Western Europe region. The consumption of raw milk and dairy products contaminated with Brucella spp. represents a major risk for human health.
The pathogens that cause the disease in humans are Brucella melitensis and Brucella abortus. Those can be transmitted from infected animals from the family Bovidae or their tissues to humans via inhalation or through skin lesions. The symptoms of this infection are like a flu disease, but brucellosis can become chronical and progress with additional complications as spondylitis and endocarditis.
Most of the countries, members of the European Union, have a status of officially free of bovine brucellosis caused by B. abortus and officially free of ovine and caprine brucellosis caused by B. melitensis in 2003. By the end of 2016, the countries on Iberian Peninsula and countries in Eastern Europe have not reached the level of officially free of B. melitensis animal infection.
Since the Brucella basically contaminates the food, quantitative PCR is recommended as the most reliable, rapid and sensitive method for detection of this pathogen. The validated PCR techniques are designed for detection of 16S/23S rRNA genes, bcsp31 gene that encodes a 31-kDa cell surface membrane protein with molecular mass 31 kDa. Also, the insertion sequence IS711 is used for screening in order to increase the sensitivity of PCR since IS711 is presented in several copies in the Brucella genome. Serological methods are another option for detection of brucellosis in humans. ELISA tests for determination of the presence and/or concentration of IgG, IgM or total Ig find wide application for detection of this disease and helps for the differentiation of the different phases (acute and chronical brucellosis) in patients.
The raw milk, cheese and meat products imported from endemic countries (Turkey, South Africa, China) and sold in the supermarkets or illegally passed through the borders can become a domestic source of Brucella in the European countries. The best way to avoid brucellosis is to consume pasteurized or sterilized dairy products that have detailed information about origin and treatment on the label and passed the food safety standards.