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Reservoirs of Brucella infection in nature

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Brucellosis is a zoonosis caused by bacteria of the genus Brucella, which includes nine species: B. melitensis (goats and sheep as the main reservoir hosts), B. abortus (cattle), B. suis (pigs), B. neotomae (desert woodrats), B. ovis (sheep), B. canis (dogs), B. ceti (whales), B. pinnipedialis (pinnipeds), and B. microti (Microtus voles). The epidemic and epizootic situation with brucellosis is accounted for by farm animals, which are the carriers of three main pathogens (B. melitensis, B. abortus, and B. suis). Their ubiquitous distribution is the factor determining global prevalence of the above Brucella species on all continents and in the overwhelming majority of countries. Consistent with the expansion of the pathogen ecological range are the 1990s findings of new Brucella species in marine mammals (whales and pinnipeds) and in some rodents. These bacteria proved to be also pathogenic for terrestrial mammals and humans. All Brucella-infected animals considered in the paper are tentatively divided into two groups. The first includes most of the wild and domestic animal species, birds, and ticks that acquire the infection farm animals, the main hosts of Brucella. The second group includes animals (wild reindeer, hares, bison, and probably saiga antelopes, dogs, and marine mammals) which may carry Brucella regardless of infection prevalence in the main hosts.

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Correspondence to M. M. Zheludkov.

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Original Russian Text © M.M. Zheludkov, L.E. Tsirelson, 2010, published in Zoologicheskii Zhurnal, 2010, No. 1, pp. 53–60.

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Zheludkov, M.M., Tsirelson, L.E. Reservoirs of Brucella infection in nature. Biol Bull Russ Acad Sci 37, 709–715 (2010).

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