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Brucella melitensis is the cause of brucellosis in sheep and goats, which often results in abortion. Few cases of B. melitensis infection in goats have occurred in the United States over the last 25 years. However, vigilance must be maintained, as it is for the bovine milk industry, to ensure that brucellosis is not introduced into the U.S. goat population. The objective of this study was to develop a sensitive and specific indirect enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (iELISA) for the detection of B. melitensis-specific antibodies in goat milk. Brucella salt-extractable protein extract was employed as an antigen, and a horseradish peroxidase-labeled polyclonal anti-goat antibody was used as an anti-species conjugate. Thirteen of 13 (100%) individual infected goat milk samples tested positive and 134 of 134 (100%) uninfected bulk milk samples tested negative by the developed iELISA. Three positive milk samples with high, medium, and low absorbance values were used to simulate one positive animal in an otherwise negative herd. By this estimation, one high-titer animal could be detected in a herd of > 1,600 animals. Detection estimates for medium- and low-titer animals were one positive animal per herd of animals, respectively. Based on this estimation, it is recommended that herds be sampled in groups of 50 animals or less for bulk milk testing. The iELISA developed for this study was found to be sensitive and specific and shows potential for use as a bulk milk test for the detection of B. melitensis-specific antibodies in goat milk.

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Journal of Clinical Microbiology

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