Initiative Calls For New Collaborative Approach
The Global Alliance for Livestock Veterinary Medicines (GALVMed) is calling for veterinary laboratory, academic and industrial collaboration toward ‘milestone two’ in developing and manufacturing an effective vaccine against the livestock disease, brucellosis.
Brucellosis causes abortions, infertility, lower milk production
Caused by infection with the bacterium Brucella melitensis. Brucellosis causes abortions, infertility, lower milk production and weight loss among cows, sheep, goats and buffalo herds. Brucellosis is ‘zoonotic’, meaning that it can, under some circumstances, cross the species boundary and infect humans. The annual £359m economic burden of brucellosis falls most heavily on small scale and subsistence livestock keepers in the developing countries of South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Symptoms of brucellosis include swollen udders, swollen testicles in males, nervousness, fever and, most characteristically premature abortion. At present, there is no effective vaccine against B. melitensis, a situation that the Ag Med managed ‘Brucellosis Challenge’ means to correct.
Combating brucella infection
The difficulty in combating Brucella infection rests on its ability to escape the attention of the host animal’s immune system. Even though it doesn’t form resistant spores, the aerobic, gram-negative coccobacilli can survive and multiply within the very cells designed to destroy them. Safe within these ineffective killer-cells, the host’s circulatory system carries the invader into the central nervous, genital-urinary, pulmonary and musculoskeletal system.
The ‘Brucellosis Challenge’ is a funded by AgResults – on behalf of the Australian, Canadian, UK and the US governments, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The 10 year project incentivises participating veterinary laboratories, academic institutions and industrial manufacturers with ‘milestone’ funding prizes each worth up to £70,000.
Three ‘milestones’ (develop an idea, prove the concept, register the product) mark the progress of the challenge toward its goal. With ‘milestone two’ in sight, the aim is to produce a brucellosis vaccine that is: safe for pregnant animals, effective in more than 80% of vaccinated animals, deliverable in a single, annual vaccination all at an affordable cost and with a long shelf life.
Testing for Brucella canis
Long shelf life and affordability are key features of the FASTest Brucella Canis test for the causative organism of brucellosis in dogs. B. Canis causes abortion typically after 45-55 days although, because dead foetuses might be reabsorbed, the observed symptom might be a failure to conceive. In males, the main symptom may be testicular degeneration and semen with no sperm, reduced sperm or large numbers of abnormal sperm resulting in infertility. Non-specific signs in both dogs and bitches include lethargy and apparent premature ageing.
Requiring no refrigerated storage and delivering a clear-cut colour-change result in 20 minutes, the cost-effective diagnostic veterinary test is a true field test for use on site at kennels and canine breeders.