One of the diseases of veterinary and public health importance affecting the Kafue lechwe (Kobus leche kafuensis) on the Kafue flats is brucellosis, for which only scant information is available. During the 2003 (October), 2004 (December), and 2008 (July–December) hunting seasons in the Kafue flats, we conducted a study to determine the seroprevalence of Brucella spp. in the Kafue lechwe and to evaluate serologic tests for detection of Brucella spp. antibodies in lechwe. The Rose Bengal Test (RBT), competitive enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (cELISA), and fluorescence polarization assay (FPA) were used. A total of 121 Kafue lechwe were hunted for disease investigations in 2003, 2004, and 2008 in the Kafue Flat Game Management Area. Of these, 21.6%, (95% confidence interval [CI]: 14.2–29.1%) had detectable antibodies to Brucella spp. The Kafue lechwe in Lochnivar National Park had higher antibody results than those in Blue Lagoon National Park (odds ratio=3.0; 95% CI: 0.94–9.4). Infection levels were similar in females (21.6%) and males (21.7%). Results were similar among RBT, FPA, cELISA tests, suggesting that these could effectively be used in diagnosing brucellosis in the Kafue lechwe. Our study demonstrates the presence of Brucella infections in the Kafue lechwe in two national parks located in the Kafue flats and further highlights the suitability of serologic assays for testing the Kafue lechwe. Because the Kafue lechwe is the most hunted wildlife species in Zambia, hunters need to be informed of the public health risk of Brucella spp. infection.
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Vol. 46 • No. 4