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This study was to determine the prevalence of Brucella antibodies in horses and knowledge, attitude and practices of groomers, blood samples for serum were collected from 304 horses of various breeds, sexes, age – groupsand purposes (uses) in three Local Government Areas of Kaduna State, Nigeria. The samples were analysed using Rose Bengal Plate Test (RBPT) and Serum Agglutination Test – EDTA (SAT – EDTA). The knowledge, attitudes and practices of the groomers in the various stables under study were determined using a structured questionnaire. From the study, the overall seroprevalences was 5.59%and 20.07% using RBPT and SAT-EDTA respectively. The seroprevalences by breed were 11.9% and 12.70% by RBPT and SAT-EDTA respectively for Arewa breed, 1.69% and 28.81% by RBPT and SAT-EDTA respectively for Argentine breed, 0.00% and 21.74% by RBPT and SAT-EDTA respectively for Sudanese breed and 0.00% and 16.21% by RBPT and SAT-EDTA respectively for Talon breed of horses. The corresponding seroprevalences by sex were 0.84% and 29.41% for females and 8.65% and 14.05% for males. The seroprevalences by age-group were 8.33%, 8.97%, 0.99% and 2.94% for 1 to 5 years old, 6 to 10 years old, 11 to 15 years old and above 15 years old respectively using the RBPT. Respective seroprevalences by purpose were 11.82%, 1.34%, and 2.22% for ceremonial, polo and racing horses using the RBPT. From the structured questionnaire, 37.50% of the respondents were aware of brucellosis and 22.50% ascribed their sources of information on the disease to be the media, 10.00% of the experienced groomers among the respondents and 5.00% professionals who attended to the veterinary care of their horses.


                                            CHAPTER ONE


 1.1 Background to the Study

Brucellosis is a highly contagious, zoonotic, and economically important bacterial disease of animals and humans worldwide (OIE, 2000). It is also one of the most important infectious causes of reproductive disorders in domestic animals (OIE, 2000). The disease is also called contagious abortion, infectious abortion, and epizootic abortion. In horses it is called “fistulous withers” and “poll evil” (Megid et al., 2010; Rust, 2012). In cattle, it is called „Bang‟s Disease‟ in tribute to the Danish veterinarian who was the pioneer in the study of the disease in this species (Megid et al., 2010; Rust, 2012). The disease in humans is called “Malta fever”, “Mediterranean fever” and “Gibraltar fever” according to the region in which the illness was first described (Megidet al., 2010; Rust, 2012). It is also known as undulating fever due to the oscillating temperature presented by infected persons. Clinical signs vary according to the animal species that is being infected and the infecting Brucella species (Rust, 2012).

Brucellosis is caused by members of the genus Brucella which is a Gram negative, facultative intracellular bacterium and can infect many animal species and man (Corbel, 1997; Young, 2000). Members of the genus are small (0.5-0.7 by 0.6-1.5µm), non-motile, encapsulated, and coccobacilli (Ryan and Ray, 2004). Genetically, ten species of the genus Brucellahave been documented and they include B.abortus, B. melitensis, B. suis, B. ovis,

  1. canis, and B. neotome, B pinipedialis, B ceti, B muris and B inapinata. However, cross- species infections by these Brucella species have been reported (Foster et al., 2007). For example, cattle can be infected by both B. abortus and B. melitensis at the same time


(Abdulssalam and Fein, 1976). Brucella abortus is the species of Brucella documented to cause brucellosis in horses (Kaltungo et al., 2013).

Brucella neotomae, which affects desert rat, is not associated with human infections (Rust, 2012). Brucella pinnipedialis and Brucella ceti that were recently isolated from marine animals can also cause disease in humans (Xavier et al., 2010). Brucella melitensis is the most virulent and most widely encountered of all the species (Bingol et al., 1999). The organisms are capable of invading and surviving in phagocytic and non-phagocytic cells (Celli, 2006). Recently, another species B. mariswas discovered in marine animals (OIE, 2000).

Brucella species can remain viable for several months in contaminated water, aborted materials, manure, wool, hay, equipment and clothing in conditions of high humidity, low temperature and if there is no exposure to sunlight (Alton and Forsyth, 1996). It has been reported by the same authors that they can, however, be destroyed by several hours of exposure to direct sunlight, surfactants such as 1% sodium hypochlorite, 70% ethanol, iodine/alcohol solutions, glutaraldehyde and formaldehyde.

Brucellosis has been reported in many animal species in Nigeria (Faladeet al., 1975; Okohet al., 1978; Falade and Shonekan, 1981; Adamu and Ajogi, 1995; Bertuet al., 2010; Ehiziboloet al., 2011). These reports seem to indicate that brucellosis is endemic and problematic in Nigeria. There are many factors that can affect the prevalence of the disease in various species of animals. These factors include climatic conditions, vegetation type, type of animal husbandry, animal species, sex, age, and diagnostic tests applied (Bercovich and Taaijke, 1990).


Horses are one of the most valuable animals in Nigeria (Musa, 2013). They are being used for ceremonial processions, polo and racing among others (Mshelia, 2013; Musa, 2013). They are also kept by the police and army for defense and security operations (RIM, 1992). They have also been used under the traditional setting for drought power in the production of local sugar commonly referred to as “Mazar Kwaila” in Kaduna State in particular (RIM, 1992).

Different breeds of horses have been reported to be kept in Kaduna State for various purposes which include polo, racing and traditional ceremonies (Garba, 2006).

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1.2 Statement of Research Problems

Horses have been used for long as beast of burden for the production of local sugar as well as the sole means of long distance journeys before the advent of modern transport facilities (Mshelia, 2013). The coming of the European expeditions saw horses being used for haulage of European goods and even merchandise (Mshelia, 2013). Diseases such as bacterial, viral, protozoan and parasitic diseases have been shown to influence the role of horses in contributing to the national economy and private horse owners. To what extent brucellosis causes such effect in horses seems not to be fully investigated in Kaduna State. Thus, there is therefore the need to investigate the prevalence of equine brucellosis, especially that the primary Brucella species in horses is B. abortus which has been reported to be endemic among cattle in Nigeria. It is also known that pastoralists commonly use horses as a means of transporting the young ones during migration (Saidu et al., 1991). The fact that the groomers are closely associated with horses, especially polo and racing ones through their grooming activities, can result in serious public health hazards, particularly if these groomers are not aware of the disease in horses.

1.1 Aim of the Study

The aim of the study is to determine the prevalence of brucella antibodies in horses as well as to determine the horse owners‟ knowledge, attitude and practices with regards to brucellosis in horses in three LGAs of Kaduna State, Nigeria.

1.2 Objectives of the Study

The objectives of the study are:

  • To determine the prevalence of brucella antibodies in horses in three LGAs of Kaduna State using RBPT and SAT-EDTA.
  • To determine the knowledge, attitude, and practices (KAP) of groomers with regards to brucellosis in horses in three LGAs of Kaduna State using

1.3 Research Questions

  1. Do horses in Kaduna State haveBrucellaantibodies?
  2. Are there any relationships between the prevalence of Brucellaantibodies in horses and epidemiological factors like age, sex, breed, purpose, management of horses and horse husbandry practices in Kaduna State?
  3. Are groomers in the Kaduna State aware of the public health risks due to brucellosis?