Risk factors for Brucella spp. and Coxiella burnetii infection among small ruminants in Eastern India

Small ruminants are the main reservoirs for brucellosis and coxiellosis, two zoonotic diseases affecting livestock production, and posing a public health threat in India. Understanding disease prevalence and risk factors associated with small ruminant infection can help mitigate disease transmission. We report a cross-sectional survey in the states of Assam and Odisha in Eastern India. We interviewed 244 farmers to assess knowledge, attitude and practices relevant to brucellosis and coxiellosis infection. Serum samples from 411 goats and 21 sheep were analysed using enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay and Rose-Bengal Brucella agglutination plate test. Higher Brucella and Coxiella burnetii seroprevalence were found in Odisha (22% and 11.5%, respectively) than Assam (9.8% and 1.6%, respectively), and certain districts in Odisha were at higher risk. No association was found between seropositive animals and clinical signs, a challenge when attempting to identify seropositive animals in the herd. None of the farmers interviewed were aware of brucellosis, its aetiology, clinical form, or zoonotic risk. This study acts as a first indication of the extent of these diseases among small ruminants in these Indian states, highlighting how farming practices are associated with increased risk of infection. More research is urgently needed to mitigate zoonoses transmission in this region.