BACKGROUND: Foodborne and zoonotic diseases such as brucellosis present many challenges to public health and economic welfare. Increasingly, researchers and public health institutes use disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) to generate a comprehensive comparison of the population health impact of these conditions. DALYs calculations, however, entail a number of methodological choices and assumptions, with data gaps and uncertainties to accommodate. Thisreview identifies existing brucellosis burden of disease studies and analyzes their methodological choices, assumptions, and uncertainties. It supports the Global Burden of Animal Diseases programme in the development of a systematic methodology to describe the impact of animal diseases on society, including human health.
METHODS/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: A systematic search for brucellosis burden of disease calculations was conducted in pre-selected international and grey literature databases. Using a standardized reporting framework, we evaluated each estimate on a variety of key methodological assumptions necessary to compute a DALY. Fourteen studies satisfied the inclusion criteria (human brucellosis and quantification of DALYs). One study reported estimates at the global level, the rest were national or subnational assessments. Data regarding different methodological choices were extracted, including detailed assessments of the adopted disease models. Most studies retrieved brucellosis epidemiological data from administrative registries. Incidence data were often estimated on the basis of laboratory-confirmed tests. Not all studies included mortality estimates (Years of Life Lost) in their assessments due to lack of data or the assumption that brucellosis is not a fatal disease. Only two studies used a model with variable health states and corresponding disability weights. The rest used a simplified singular health state approach. Wide variation was seen in the duration chosen for brucellosis, ranging from 2 weeks to 4.5 years, irrespective of the whether a chronic state was included.
CONCLUSION: Available brucellosis burden of disease assessments vary widely in their methodology and assumptions. Further research is needed to better characterize the clinical course of brucellosis and to estimate case-fatality rates. Additionally, reporting of methodological choices should be improved to enhance transparency and comparability of estimates. These steps will increase the value of these estimates for policy makers.