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Brucellosis: discovered more than 100 years ago and still a hot topic

24/2014, 08.09.2014

International conference held at the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment to discuss current state of research and provide new insights

From 9 to 12 September 2014, the International Brucellosis Society which consists of specialists in veterinary and human medicine as well as scientists working in a range of other disciplines will be visiting Berlin. The Brucellosis 2014 International Research Conference is organised by the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) and the Friedrich Loeffler Institut (FLI). Roughly 250 scientists from 40 nations will exchange and discuss the latest insights gained from brucellosis research. More than 100 years after the discovery of Brucella by Sir David Bruce in Malta, this infectious disease is still one of the most common bacterial zoonoses in the world. Every year, up to 500,000 newly diagnosed cases are reported. "The most important transmission path is the consumption of raw milk and raw milk cheese", explains BfR President Professor Dr. Dr. Andreas Hensel. In Central and Northern Europe, brucellosis has been successfully controlled in production animal populations and is therefore rare now. However, the consumption of animal-derived foods produced in high-risk regions such as the Mediterranean area, the Arabian Peninsula, the Middle East, Africa as well as Central and South America still pose a risk of infection.

Brucellae are bacteria that do not form spores but are resistant nevertheless. Brucella can cause infections in both humans and animals, though not all species are pathogenic to humans. Brucella melitensis, the pathogen causing sheep and goat brucellosis, is responsible for most infections in humans. Infection leads to influenza-like symptoms including fever, shivering, loss of appetite and fatigue.

The most important measure to avoid Brucella infections in humans in the long term is to combat brucellosis in animal populations. In Northern and Central Europe, brucellosis in animals has been almost eradicated through consistent monitoring and control. The number of infected humans is correspondingly low in these countries. In some countries bordering on the Mediterranean, Brucella continues to be common in animal populations. Within Europe, Portugal, Spain, the South of Italy, Greece and Turkey in particular are affected.

This year’s international brucellosis conference is expected to provide insights and stimulate research in the following subject areas:

  • Taxonomy, evolution and new species
  • Genes, proteins and metabolism (genomics, proteomics, metabolomics)
  • Host-pathogen interaction
  • Immunology
  • Vaccination
  • Diagnostics
  • Human and pet brucellosis in
  • Livestock brucellosis and food hygiene
  • Wildlife brucellosis

Each one of the nine thematic sections is inaugurated by an expert. This introduction will be followed by lectures and poster presentations on the main topics and by discussions.

About the BfR

The Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) is a scientific institution within the portfolio of the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL) in Germany. It advises the Federal Government and Federal Laender on questions of food, chemical and product safety. The BfR conducts its own research on topics that are closely linked to its assessment tasks.

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