Documenting the absence of bovine brucellosis in dairy cattle herds in the southern region of Malawi and the associated knowledge, attitudes and practices of farmers
There is paucity of Brucella prevalence data in Malawi. For this reason, a cross-sectional study was conducted, from 06 January 2020 to 27 February 2020, to estimate the seroprevalence of brucellosis in dairy cattle herds amongst smallholder farmers, government and private dairy farms in the southern region. A total of 529 serum samples were screened for anti-Brucella antibodies using the Rose Bengal test (RBT) and a competitive enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (cELISA). A pre-tested electronic (Epicollect tool, Wellcome Sanger Institute, United Kingdom) questionnaire was administered to 378 smallholder farmers to assess their knowledge, attitudes and practices towards brucellosis. Descriptive statistics were used to analyse the data in Microsoft Excel® and Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS®) version 21. No animal tested positive for presence of
anti-Brucella antibodies, indicating 0% prevalence (individual and herd levels). The majority (94.2%; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 91.8–96.5) of smallholder farmers had never heard about brucellosis. Furthermore, assisting during parturition without protective equipment (41.3%; 95% CI: 36.3–46.2) and using bulls for breeding (75%; 95% CI: 70.2–78.9) were amongst the common risk
practices that were identified. We could not detect brucellosis in this study that indicates the disease could be very rare or even absent in the dairy cattle herds of the southern region of Malawi. However, further Brucella studies need to be conducted in cattle, small livestock, wildlife and humans to document the true status of brucellosis in the country. Brucellosis surveillance,
monitoring, awareness and preventive measures are required to maintain this favourable situation. Keywords: bovine brucellosis (contagious abortion); dairy cattle herds; seroprevalence; knowledge; attitudes and practices; Malawi.