Between November 2010 and April 2011, a serological study was conducted on small ruminants to determine the prevalence of brucellosis and factors affecting its frequency in these animals. Out of 384 sheep and goats sera tested using Rose Bengal plate test (RBPT) and complement fixation test (CFT), 36 (9.38%) reacted positively using RBPT. Of these reactant sera, 35 also tested positive using CFT, giving an overall prevalence of small ruminant brucellosis of 9.11% (95% CI: 6.43% to 12.45). Using a logistic regression model, no statistically significant differences were recorded in seroprevalence between sheep and goats (OR = 1.10, 95% CI: 0.54 to 2.23), male and female animals (OR = 1.02, 95%: 0.50 to 2.06), and among different age groups. A questionnaire was administered to 49 small ruminant owners to determine their awareness of brucellosis and identify their practices and feeding habits that would predispose them to this disease. Nearly half of the sheep and goat owners questioned did not know about small ruminant brucellosis; however, almost all of them confirmed the presence of abortion in their animals (in Afan Oromo called “Ilman Dhaha” or “Ilman Darba”). 87.76% of the respondents drank un-boiled milk and/or consumed raw meat of small ruminants and 95.92% of them handled fetal membranes and disposed of aborted fetuses using bare hands. Poor awareness of the zoonotic importance of brucellosis and the practices of consuming raw milk and meat and handling potentially infectious materials using bare hands pose a serious danger to small ruminant owners.
Key words: Brucellosis, Dire Dawa, public health, seroprevalence, small ruminants.
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