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Seroprevalence and risk factors for bovine brucellosis in domestic yaks (Bos grunniens) in Tibet, China


A cross-sectional study was conducted in three counties (Damxung, Maizhokunggar and Yadong) in Tibet in April and May 2015. A total of 1,523 yaks owned by 181 herders were randomly selected and blood sampled. Sera were tested using the rose bengal test (RBT) and a competitive immune-enzymatic assay (C-ELISA) and the test results interpreted in parallel. The individual yak prevalence was 2.8% (95% CI 2.0–3.7) with a herd prevalence of 18.2% (95% CI 12.9–24.6). At the individual level, two predictor variables, age and production system, were significantly associated with seropositivity by a binary logistic regression analysis. The odds of Brucella infection were significantly higher in older Yaks (3–5 years old, OR = 4.51; 95% CI 1.53–19.29; ≥6 years old, OR = 3.89; 95% CI 1.23–17.21) compared to those of younger yaks (≤2 years old). The odds of seropositivity for yaks managed under an agro-pastoral production system were 2.9 (95% CI 1.48–5.86) times higher compared to those managed under a pastoral production system. At the herd level, an association between the infection with Brucella and a history of abortions in the herd was observed (OR = 4.98, 95% CI 1.48–16.62). Surprisingly, vaccination was not associated with a lower level of infection (p = 0.49 and p = 0.99 for individual and herd level data, respectively). The results of the survey indicate that bovine brucellosis is endemic among the yak population in the plateau region of China, and the risk factors identified in the study should be considered in the epidemiology of the disease and when developing control programs for the disease.

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We would like to thank the John Allwright Fellowship from ACIAR (Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research) and Murdoch University for sponsoring this study as part of a PhD studentship. The Tibet Livestock Research Institute and Veterinary stations in the three sampled counties are acknowledged for their field assistances during sample collection. Also, we acknowledge the staff of the China Animal Health and Epidemiology Center for their laboratory assistance.

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Correspondence to Ian Robertson.

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Zeng, J., Duoji, C., Yuan, Z. et al. Seroprevalence and risk factors for bovine brucellosis in domestic yaks (Bos grunniens) in Tibet, China. Trop Anim Health Prod 49, 1339–1344 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11250-017-1331-7

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  • Brucellosis
  • Yak
  • Prevalence
  • Risk factors