Brucellosis remains a neglected disease in the developing world: a call for interdisciplinary action
Brucellosis is an endemic zoonotic disease in most of the developing world that causes devastating losses to the livestock industry and small-scale livestock holders. Infected animals exhibit clinical signs that are of economic significance to stakeholders and include reduced fertility, abortion, poor weight gain, lost draught power, and a substantial decline in milk production. In humans, brucellosis typically manifests as a variety of non-specific clinical signs. Chronicity and recurring febrile conditions, as well as devastating complications in pregnant women are common sequelae.
In regions where the disease is endemic, brucellosis has far-reaching and deleterious effects on humans and animals alike. Deeply entrenched social misconceptions and fear of government intervention contribute to this disease continuing to smolder unchecked in most of the developing world, thereby limiting economic growth and inhibiting access to international markets. The losses in livestock productivity compromise food security and lead to shifts in the cognitive competency of the working generation, influence the propagation of gender inequality, and cause profound emotional suffering in farmers whose herds are affected. The acute and chronic symptoms of the disease in humans can result in a significant loss of workdays and a decline in the socioeconomic status of infected persons and their families from the associated loss of income. The burden of the disease to society includes significant human healthcare costs for diagnosis and treatment, and non-healthcare costs such as public education efforts to reduce disease transmission.
Brucellosis places significant burdens on the human healthcare system and limits the economic growth of individuals, communities, and nations where such development is especially important to diminish the prevalence of poverty. The implementation of public policy focused on mitigating the socioeconomic effects of brucellosis in human and animal populations is desperately needed. When developing a plan to mitigate the associated consequences, it is vital to consider both the abstract and quantifiable effects. This requires an interdisciplinary and collaborative, or One Health, approach that consists of public education, the development of an infrastructure for disease surveillance and reporting in both veterinary and medical fields, and campaigns for control in livestock and wildlife species.