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1.  Human Brucellosis in Maghreb: Existence of a Lineage Related to Socio-Historical Connections with Europe 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(12):e115319.
Despite control/eradication programs, brucellosis, major worldwide zoonosis due to the Brucella genus, is endemic in Northern Africa and remains a major public health problem in the Maghreb region (Algeria/Morocco/Tunisia). Brucella melitensis biovar 3 is mostly involved in human infections and infects mainly small ruminants. Human and animal brucellosis occurrence in the Maghreb seems still underestimated and its epidemiological situation remains hazy. This study summarizes official data, regarding Brucella melitensis infections in Algeria, from 1989 to 2012, with the purpose to provide appropriate insights concerning the epidemiological situation of human and small ruminant brucellosis in Maghreb. Algeria and Europe are closely linked for historical and economical reasons. These historical connections raise the question of their possible impact on the genetic variability of Brucella strains circulating in the Maghreb. Other purpose of this study was to assess the genetic diversity among Maghreb B. melitensis biovar 3 strains, and to investigate their possible epidemiological relationship with European strains, especially with French strains. A total of 90 B. melitensis biovar 3 Maghreb strains isolated over a 25 year-period (1989–2014), mainly from humans, were analysed by MLVA-16. The obtained results were compared with genotypes of European B. melitensis biovar 3 strains. Molecular assays showed that Algerian strains were mainly distributed into two distinct clusters, one Algerian cluster related to European sub-cluster. These results led to suggest the existence of a lineage resulting from socio-historical connections between Algeria and Europe that might have evolved distinctly from the Maghreb autochthonous group. This study provides insights regarding the epidemiological situation of human brucellosis in the Maghreb and is the first molecular investigation regarding B. melitensis biovar 3 strains circulating in the Maghreb.
PMCID: PMC4269447  PMID: 25517901
2.  Examination of Taxonomic Uncertainties Surrounding Brucella abortus bv. 7 by Phenotypic and Molecular Approaches 
Brucella taxonomy is perpetually being reshuffled, at both the species and intraspecies levels. Biovar 7 of Brucella abortus was suspended from the Approved Lists of Bacterial Names Brucella classification in 1988, because of unpublished evidence that the reference strain 63/75 was a mixture of B. abortus biovars 3 and 5. To formally clarify the situation, all isolates previously identified as B. abortus bv. 7 in the AHVLA and ANSES strain collections were characterized by classical microbiological and multiple molecular approaches. Among the 14 investigated strains, including strain 63/75, only four strains, isolated in Kenya, Turkey, and Mongolia, were pure and showed a phenotypic profile in agreement with the former biovar 7, particularly agglutination with both anti-A/anti-M monospecific sera. These results were strengthened by molecular strategies. Indeed, genus- and species-specific methods allowed confirmation that the four pure strains belonged to the B. abortus species. The combination of most approaches excluded their affiliation with the recognized biovars (biovars 1 to 6 and 9), while some suggested that they were close to biovar 3.These assays were complemented by phylogenetic and/or epidemiological methods, such as multilocus sequence analysis (MLSA) and variable-number tandem repeat (VNTR) analysis. The results of this polyphasic investigation allow us to propose the reintroduction of biovar 7 into the Brucella classification, with at least three representative strains. Interestingly, the Kenyan strain, sharing the same biovar 7 phenotype, was genetically divergent from other three isolates. These discrepancies illustrate the complexity of Brucella taxonomy. This study suggests that worldwide collections could include strains misidentified as B. abortus bv. 7, and it highlights the need to verify their real taxonomic position.
PMCID: PMC3957594  PMID: 24362435
3.  Reemergence of Brucella melitensis Infection in Wildlife, France 
Emerging Infectious Diseases  2014;20(9):1570-1571.
PMCID: PMC4178400  PMID: 25152274
brucellosis; Brucella melitensis; bacteria; alpine ibex; chamois; massif; wildlife; ruminants; reservoir; France
4.  Brucella melitensis in France: Persistence in Wildlife and Probable Spillover from Alpine Ibex to Domestic Animals 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(4):e94168.
Bovine brucellosis is a major zoonosis, mainly caused by Brucella abortus, more rarely by Brucella melitensis. France has been bovine brucellosis officially-free since 2005 with no cases reported in domestic/wild ruminants since 2003. In 2012, bovine and autochthonous human cases due to B. melitensis biovar 3 (Bmel3) occurred in the French Alps. Epidemiological investigations implemented in wild and domestic ruminants evidenced a high seroprevalence (>45%) in Alpine ibex (Capra ibex); no cases were disclosed in other domestic or wild ruminants, except for one isolated case in a chamois (Rupicapra rupicapra). These results raised the question of a possible persistence/emergence of Brucella in wildlife. The purpose of this study was to assess genetic relationships among the Bmel3 strains historically isolated in humans, domestic and wild ruminants in Southeastern France, over two decades, by the MLVA-panel2B assay, and to propose a possible explanation for the origin of the recent bovine and human infections. Indeed, this genotyping strategy proved to be efficient for this microepidemiological investigation using an interpretation cut-off established for a fine-scale setting. The isolates, from the 2012 domestic/human outbreak harbored an identical genotype, confirming a recent and direct contamination from cattle to human. Interestingly, they clustered not only with isolates from wildlife in 2012, but also with local historical domestic isolates, in particular with the 1999 last bovine case in the same massif. Altogether, our results suggest that the recent bovine outbreak could have originated from the Alpine ibex population. This is the first report of a B. melitensis spillover from wildlife to domestic ruminants and the sustainability of the infection in Alpine ibex. However, this wild population, reintroduced in the 1970s in an almost closed massif, might be considered as a semi-domestic free-ranging herd. Anthropogenic factors could therefore account with the high observed intra-species prevalence.
PMCID: PMC3986073  PMID: 24732322
5.  MLVA16 Typing of Portuguese Human and Animal Brucella melitensis and Brucella abortus Isolates 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(8):e42514.
To investigate the epidemiological relationship of isolates from different Portuguese geographical regions and to assess the diversity among isolates, the MLVA16Orsay assay (panels 1, 2A and 2B) was performed with a collection of 126 Brucella melitensis (46 human and 80 animal isolates) and 157 B. abortus field isolates, seven vaccine strains and the representative reference strains of each species. The MLVA16Orsay showed a similar high discriminatory power (HGDI 0.972 and 0.902) for both species but panel 1 and 2A markers displayed higher diversity (HGDI 0.693) in B. abortus compared to B. melitensis isolates (HGDI 0.342). The B. melitensis population belong to the “Americas” (17%) and “East Mediterranean” (83%) groups. No isolate belonged to the “West Mediterranean” group. Eighty-five percent of the human isolates (39 in 46) fit in the “East-Mediterranean” group where a single lineage known as MLVA11 genotype 116 is responsible for the vast majority of Brucella infections in humans. B. abortus isolates formed a consistent group with bv1 and bv3 isolates in different clusters. Four MLVA11 genotypes were observed for the first time in isolates from S. Jorge and Terceira islands from Azores. From the collection of isolates analysed in this study we conclude that MLVA16Orsay provided a clear view of Brucella spp. population, confirming epidemiological linkage in outbreak investigations. In particular, it suggests recent and ongoing colonisation of Portugal with one B. melitensis lineage usually associated with East Mediterranean countries.
PMCID: PMC3419166  PMID: 22905141
6.  Assessment of the diagnostic sensitivity and specificity of an indirect ELISA kit for the diagnosis of Brucella ovis infection in rams 
Brucella ovis causes an infectious disease responsible for infertility and subsequent economic losses in sheep production. The standard serological test to detect B. ovis infection in rams is the complement fixation test (CFT), which has imperfect sensitivity and specificity in addition to technical drawbacks. Other available tests include the indirect enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (I-ELISA) but no I-ELISA kit has been fully evaluated.
The study aimed to compare an I-ELISA kit and the standard CFT. Our study was carried out on serum samples from 4599 rams from the South of France where the disease is enzootic. A Bayesian approach was used to estimate tests characteristics (diagnostic sensitivity, Se and diagnostic specificity, Sp). The tests were then studied together in order to optimise testing strategies to detect B. ovis.
After optimising the cut-off values in order to avoid doubtful results without deteriorating the concordance between the results of the two tests, the I-ELISA appeared to be slightly more sensitive than CFT (Se I-ELISA = 0.917 [0.822; 0.992], 95% Credibility Interval (CrI) compared to Se CFT = 0.860 [0.740; 0.967], 95% CrI). However, CFT was slightly more specific than I-ELISA (Sp CFT = 0.988 [0.947; 1.0], 95% CrI) compared to Sp I-ELISA =0.952 [0.901; 1.0], 95% CrI).
The tests were then associated with two different interpretation schemes. The series association increased the specificity of screening and could be used for pre-movement testing in rams from uninfected flocks. The parallel association increased sequence sensitivity, thus appearing more suitable for eradicating the disease in infected flocks.
The high sensitivity and acceptable specificity of this I-ELISA kit support its potential interest to avoid the limitations of CFT. The two tests could also be used together or combined with other diagnostic methods such as semen culture to improve the testing strategy. The choice of test sequence and interpretation criteria depends on the epidemiological context, screening objectives and the financial and practical constraints.
PMCID: PMC3391974  PMID: 22640401
Brucella ovis; Diagnostic tests; CFT; I-ELISA; Sensitivity; Specificity; Bayesian approach

Results 1-7 (7)