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Swine brucellosis

swine brucellosis, swine brucellosis symptoms
Swine brucellosis is a zoonosis affecting pigs, caused by the bacterium Brucella suis The disease typically causes chronic inflammatory lesions in the reproductive organs of susceptible animals or orchitis, and may even affect joints and other organs1 The most common symptom is abortion in pregnant susceptible sows at any stage of gestation2 Other manifestations are temporary or permanent sterility, lameness, posterior paralysis, spondylitis, and abscess formation It is transmitted mainly by ingestion of infected tissues or fluids, semen during breeding, and suckling infected animals3

Since brucellosis threatens the food supply and causes undulant fever,4 Brucella suis and other Brucella species B melitensis, B abortis, B ovis, B canis are recognized as potential agricultural, civilian, and military bioterrorism agents5


  • 1 Cause
  • 2 Pathogenesis
  • 3 Symptoms
  • 4 Treatment
  • 5 Biological warfare
  • 6 References


B suis is a Gram-negative, facultative, intracellular coccobacillus, capable of growing and reproducing inside of host cells, specifically phagocytic cells6 They are also not spore-forming, capsulated, or motile6 Flagellar genes, however, are present in the B suis genome, but are thought to be cryptic remnants because some were truncated and others were6 missing crucial components of the flagellar apparatus78 Interestingly, in mouse models, the flagellum is essential for a normal infectious cycle, where the inability to assemble a complete flagellum leads to severe attenuation of the bacteria9

B suis is differentiated into five biovars strains, where biovars 1-3 infect wild boar and domestic pigs, and biovars 1 and 3 may cause severe diseases in humans1 In contrast, biovar 2 found in wild boars in Europe shows mild or no clinical signs and cannot infect healthy humans, but does infect pigs and hares10


Phagocytes are an essential component of the host’s innate immune system with various antimicrobial defense mechanisms to clear pathogens by oxidative burst, acidificiation of phagosomes, and fusion of the phagosome and lysosome B suis, in return, has developed ways to counteract the host cell defense to survive in the macrophage and to deter host immune responses

B suis possesses smooth lipopolysaccharide LPS, which has a full-length O-chain, as opposed to rough LPS, which has a truncated or no O-chain11 This structural characteristic allows for B suis to interact with lipid rafts on the surface of macrophages to be internalized, and the formed lipid-rich phagosome is able to avoid fusion with lysosomes through this endocytic pathway12 In addition, this furtive entry into the macrophage does not affect the cell’s normal trafficking13 The smooth LPS also inhibits host cell apoptosis by O-polysaccharides through a TNF-alpha-independent mechanism, which allows for B suis to avoid the activation of the host immune system11

Once inside the macrophage, B suis is able to endure the rapid acidificiation in the phagosome to pH 40-4514 by expressing metabolism genes mainly for amino acid synthesis13 The acidic pH is actually essential for replication of the bacteria by inducing major virulence genes of the virB operon15 and the synthesis of DnaK chaperones14 DnaK is part of the heat shock protein 70 family, and aids in the correct synthesis and activation of certain virulence factors13

In addition, the B suis gene for nickel transport, nikA, is activated by metal ion deficiency and is expressed once in the phagosome16 Nickel is essential for many enzymatic reactions, including ureolysis to produce ammonia which in turn may neutralize acidic pH13 Since B suis is unable to grow in a strongly acidic medium, it could be protected from acidification by the ammonia


  • B suis encounters a macrophage, but no oxidative burst occurs
  • Lipid rafts are necessary for macrophage penetration
  • The phagosome rapidly acidifies, creating a stressful environment for bacteria, which triggers activation of virulence genes
  • Lipid rafts on phagosomes prevent lysosomal fusion, and normal cell trafficking is unaffected


The most frequent clinical sign following B suis infection is abortion in pregnant females, reduced milk production, and infertility17 Cattle can also be transiently infected when they share pasture or facilities with infected pigs, and B suis can be transmitted by cow’s milk1718

Swine also develop orchitis swelling of the testicles, lameness movement disability, hind limb paralysis, or spondylitis inflammation in joints18


Because B suis is facultative and intracellular, and is able to adapt to environmental conditions in the macrophage, treatment failure and relapse rates are high18 The only effective way to control and eradicate zoonosis is by vaccination of all susceptible hosts and elmination of infected animals19 The Brucella abortus rough LPS Brucella vaccine, developed for bovine brucellosis and licensed by the USDA Animal Plant Health Inspection Service, has shown protection for some swine and is also effective against B suis infection, but currently no approved vaccine for swine brucellosis is available20

Biological warfareedit

In the United States, B suis was the first biological agent weaponized in 1952, and was field-tested with B suis-filled bombs called M33 cluster bombs21 It is, however, considered to be one of the agents of lesser threat because many infections are asymptomatic and the mortality is low,22 but it is used more as an incapacitating agent


  1. ^ a b Fretin, D; Whatmore, AM; Al Dahouk, S; Neubauer, H; Garin-Bastuji, B; Albert, D; Van Hessche, M; Ménart, M; Godfroid, J; Walravens, K; Wattiau, P 15 October 2008 "Brucella suis identification and biovar typing by real-time PCR" Veterinary microbiology 131 3-4: 376–85 PMID 18499359 doi:101016/jvetmic200804003 
  2. ^ Godfroid, J; Cloeckaert, A; Liautard, JP; Kohler, S; Fretin, D; Walravens, K; Garin-Bastuji, B; Letesson, JJ 2005 "From the discovery of the Malta fever's agent to the discovery of a marine mammal reservoir, brucellosis has continuously been a re-emerging zoonosis" Veterinary research 36 3: 313–26 PMID 15845228 doi:101051/vetres:2005003 
  3. ^ Nicoletti, P 2016 "Brucellosis in Pigs - Reproductive System" Merck Veterinary Manual Retrieved 2017-04-29 
  4. ^ Wilson, G S 1955 Topley and Wilson’s principles of bacteriology and immunity London, England: Edward Arnold Publishers Ltd
  5. ^ Halling, SM; Peterson-Burch, BD; Bricker, BJ; Zuerner, RL; Qing, Z; Li, LL; Kapur, V; Alt, DP; Olsen, SC April 2005 "Completion of the genome sequence of Brucella abortus and comparison to the highly similar genomes of Brucella melitensis and Brucella suis" Journal of bacteriology 187 8: 2715–26 PMC 1070361  PMID 15805518 
  6. ^ a b c Liautard, JP; Gross, A; Dornand, J; Köhler, S June 1996 "Interactions between professional phagocytes and Brucella spp" Microbiologia 12 2: 197–206 PMID 8767704 
  7. ^ DelVecchio, VG; Kapatral, V; Elzer, P; Patra, G; Mujer, CV 20 December 2002 "The genome of Brucella melitensis" Veterinary microbiology 90 1-4: 587–92 PMID 12414174 doi:101016/S0378-11350200238-9 
  8. ^ Moreno, E; Moriyon, I 8 January 2002 "Brucella melitensis: a nasty bug with hidden credentials for virulence" Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 99 1: 1–3 PMC 117501  PMID 11782541 doi:101073/pnas022622699 
  9. ^ Fretin, D; Fauconnier, A; Köhler, S; Halling, S; Léonard, S; Nijskens, C; Ferooz, J; Lestrate, P; Delrue, RM; Danese, I; Vandenhaute, J; Tibor, A; DeBolle, X; Letesson, JJ May 2005 "The sheathed flagellum of Brucella melitensis is involved in persistence in a murine model of infection" Cellular microbiology 7 5: 687–98 PMID 15839898 doi:101111/j1462-5822200500502x 
  10. ^ Lagier, A; Brown, S; Soualah, A; Julier, I; Tourrand, B; Albert, D; Reyes, J; Garin-Bastuji, B 2005 "Brucellose aiguë à Brucella suis biovar 2 chez un chasseur de sanglier" Médecine et Maladies Infectieuses in French 35: 185 
  11. ^ a b Seleem, MN; Boyle, SM; Sriranganathan, N 25 May 2008 "Brucella: a pathogen without classic virulence genes" Veterinary microbiology 129 1-2: 1–14 PMID 18226477 doi:101016/jvetmic200711023 
  12. ^ Lapaque, N, Moriyon, I, Moreno, E, Gorvel, JP "Brucella lipopolysaccharide acts as a virulence factor" Curr Opin Microbio 8 2005: 60-66
  13. ^ a b c d Köhler, S; Porte, F; Jubier-Maurin, V; Ouahrani-Bettache, S; Teyssier, J; Liautard, JP 20 December 2002 "The intramacrophagic environment of Brucella suis and bacterial response" Veterinary microbiology 90 1-4: 299–309 PMID 12414150 doi:101016/S0378-11350200215-8 
  14. ^ a b Porte, F; Liautard, JP; Köhler, S August 1999 "Early acidification of phagosomes containing Brucella suis is essential for intracellular survival in murine macrophages" Infection and immunity 67 8: 4041–7 PMC 96697  PMID 10417172 
  15. ^ Boschiroli, ML; Ouahrani-Bettache, S; Foulongne, V; Michaux-Charachon, S; Bourg, G; Allardet-Servent, A; Cazevieille, C; Liautard, JP; Ramuz, M; O'Callaghan, D 5 February 2002 "The Brucella suis virB operon is induced intracellularly in macrophages" Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 99 3: 1544–9 PMC 122227  PMID 11830669 
  16. ^ Jubier-Maurin, V; Rodrigue, A; Ouahrani-Bettache, S; Layssac, M; Mandrand-Berthelot, MA; Köhler, S; Liautard, JP January 2001 "Identification of the nik gene cluster of Brucella suis: regulation and contribution to urease activity" Journal of bacteriology 183 2: 426–34 PMC 94896  PMID 11133934 
  17. ^ a b Acha, PN; Szyfres, B, eds 2003 "Brucellosis" Zoonoses and communicable diseases common to man and animals Volume 1 PDF 3rd ed Washington, DC: Pan American Health Organization pp 40–66 ISBN 9275119910 
  18. ^ a b c Seleem, MN; Boyle, SM; Sriranganathan, N 27 January 2010 "Brucellosis: a re-emerging zoonosis" Veterinary microbiology 140 3-4: 392–8 PMID 19604656 doi:101016/jvetmic200906021 
  19. ^ Briones, G, N Inon de Iannino, M Roset, A Vigliocco, PS Paulo and RA Ugalde "Brucella abortus cyclic beta-1,2-glucan mutants have reduced virulence in mice and are defective in intracellular replication in HeLa cells" Infectious immunity 69 2001: 4528-4535
  20. ^ Kemp, Jeffrey M and Miller, Lowell A "Oral vaccination and immunocontraception of feral swine using brucella suis with multimeric gnrh protein expression" Proc 23rd vertebr Pest Conf 2008: 250-252
  21. ^ Christopher, G W, Again, M B, Cieslak, T J and Olson, PE "History of U S military contributions to the study of bacterial zoonoses" Military Medicine 170 2005: 39-48
  22. ^ Bossi, P, Tegnell, A, Baka, A, Van Loock, F, Hendriks, J, Werner, A, Maidhof, H, Gouvras, G "Bichat guidelines for the clinical management of brucellosis and bioterrorism-related brucellosis" Eurosurveillance 9 2004: 1-5

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