Risk factors for new bovine brucellosis infections in Colombian herds

Liliana Cárdenas, Mario Peña, Oscar Melo, Jordi Casal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearch

11 Citations (Scopus)


© 2019 The Author(s). Background: Bovine brucellosis is a zoonotic disease that causes substantial economic losses and has a strong impact on public health. The main objective of this paper is to determine the risk factors for new infections of Brucella abortus on Colombian cattle farms previously certified as being free of brucellosis. A case-control study was conducted by comparing 98 cases (farms certified as brucellosis-free for three or more years but became infected) with 93 controls (farms that remained brucellosis-free during at least the previous three years). The farms were matched by herd size and geographical location (municipality). Information was obtained via a questionnaire completed by veterinary officers through a personal interview with the herd owners. Results: Two-thirds of the herds (67%) were dairy herds, 16% were beef herds, and 17% were dual-purpose (beef and milk) herds. After exploratory univariate analysis, all explanatory variables with a p-value of ≤0.20 were included in a logistic regression model using the forward stepwise method to select the model with the best goodness of fit. The significant risk factors were the replacement of animals from farms not certified as brucellosis-free compared to replacement from certified brucellosis-free farms (OR = 4.84, p-value < 0.001) and beef cattle farms compared to dairy cattle farms (OR = 3.61, p-value = 0.017). When herds with and without artificial insemination were compared, it was observed that farms that used natural breeding with bulls from non-certified herds had a higher risk than farms using artificial insemination (OR = 2.45, p-value = 0.037), but when the bulls came from brucellosis-free farms, farms with natural breeding were less affected (OR = 0.30, p-value = 0.004) than farms using artificial insemination, whether with frozen semen from certified brucellosis-free herds or fresh semen from uncontrolled herds. The latter is commonly sold to neighbouring farms. Conclusions: The government should make efforts to inform farmers about the risks involved in the introduction of semen and replacement heifers from farms that are not certified as brucellosis-free and to establish measures to control these practices.
Original languageEnglish
Article number81
JournalBMC Veterinary Research
Publication statusPublished - 7 Mar 2019


  • Bovine brucellosis infection
  • Brucella-free herds
  • Colombia
  • Risk factors


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