Brucellosis of cattle, also known as "contagious abortion" and "Bangs disease", is caused by infection with the bacterium Brucella abortus, which can also cause a disease of humans known as "undulant fever".  Brucellosis infection of cattle causes abortion or premature calving of recently infected animals, most often between the fifth and eight month of pregancy.  Although federal and state regulations have helped to control this disease, there is still a threat.  Infected cows frequently suffer from retained afterbirth, are difficult to get rebred and sometimes become sterile.   

Brucellosis is spread from the vaginal discharge of an infected cow or from an aborted fetus.  The organism has an affinity for the reproductive tract and abortions, retained placenta, weak calves and infertility frequently occur.   Breeding bulls which are infected, can transmit the disease to cows at the time of service by infected semen.  Milk produced front an infected cow may also harbor the organism.  The infected milk creates a public health hazard as this is the organism that causes undulant fever in humans.

Canada's national cattle herd was declared brucellosis-free on September 19, 1985. Disease monitoring continues at this time in the form of active disease surveillance through auction market testing in northern Alberta and B.C., and in the form of passive surveillance through disease reporting mechanisms and the brucellosis testing of cattle being qualified for export to countries other than the U.S. Brucellosis ring testing of milk and cream, as well as the Market Cow Testing of slaughter cattle, ended on April 1, 1999.

The significance of disease reporting by veterinary practitioners in the surveillance program is therefore increased. Veterinary practitioners are encouraged to discuss instances of unexplained bovine abortions with a CFIA district veterinarian, and to submit convalescent serum to that official wherever possible for confirmatory negative testing.

Biocheck is a federally accredited  facility for Brucellosis testing using the BPAT (Buffered Plate Agglutination Test) method.  Brucellosis testing can be performed on samples from the following species: bovine, bison, ovine, caprine, porcine, camelids and cervids.  The test is limited to animals which are being exported to USA or Mexico and  owner's request where brucellosis is not suspected.  This would include changes of ownership, movement within Canada, US state requirement or flock/ herd testing to identify herd eligibilty status for export to any country.   In  all cases where the disease is suspected, samples should be sent directly to the Federal Laboratories for testing.

Blood/serum samples submitted to Biocheck labs must be submitted by a Veterinarian  who has been accredited by their CFIA to sample animals for Brucellosis testing.  All samples must be submitted with a completed CFIA submission form, including district office where the animal is located and veterinarian submittor code.  All samples will be tested and results released to submitting veterinarians the same day they arrive at the lab.  Badly hemolyzed or contaminated samples are unfit for BPAT testing and a rebleed will be requested.