Tackling bacterial infections in ruminants
Belgium has officially been free from bovine tuberculosis and brucellosis officially since 2003. Sciensano helps maintain this status by carrying out diagnoses corresponding to international standards. These diagnoses are based on bacteriological tests carried out in a high-security laboratory, molecular tests and immunological analyses.
We also diagnose four pathologies associated with abortions in ruminants and horses.
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As part of our task to monitor bovine brucellosis, we focus mainly on the certification of cattle herds and sheep flocks using serological tests (±8,000 tests/year). Our research aims to improve the specificity of this diagnosis (a reduction in falsely positive tests).
Belgium is not biologically free from bovine tuberculosis. Our activity focuses mainly on isolating the agent responsible, Mycobacterium bovis, as well as on developing and implementing Interferon-gamma assays and serological tests.
For the pathogens involved in these two pathologies, we are developing molecular tests that allow the rapid typing of the bacteria responsible. We hold large collections of Brucella and mycobacteria that have been isolated in Belgium for around twenty years. These collections contain valuable epidemiological information, which is why we frequently update their characterisation according to the evolution of molecular biology technologies.
As part of our work on mycobacterial infections, we are also working on the standardisation of diagnostic tests for bovine paratuberculosis.