Brucellosis in Sri Lanka: A review of epidemiology, control strategies and recommendations on future control strategies

Brucellosis is a zoonosis that has been virtually eliminated from most developed countries, but remains endemic in many regions of the world including Africa, the Middle East and Central and South-East Asia.

This project is combining a systematic review of published and unpublished literature with a cost-benefit analysis to formulate evidence-based recommendations to guide government policy on enhancing brucellosis control in Sri Lanka.

View preliminary results.

The problem

A large-scale brucellosis control programme targeting the eradication of the disease has not been adopted in Sri Lanka.

The low availability of labour, financial constraints, inadequate laboratory facilities, religious and cultural taboos and a lack of compliance by farmers have been documented as major constraints that hinder the success of control strategies. Currently, for many practical reasons, control measures are only being implemented on the government livestock farms.

Furthermore, due to a lack of information about the impact of the disease on the human population and about the economic impact of the disease on the livestock industry, policy makers in Sri Lanka currently consider the disease to be of low priority and limited resources are made available for brucellosis control.

The situation

An initial literature search retrieved a small number of published papers regarding this disease in Sri Lanka, and the focus of these papers was on bovine brucellosis with sparse information available regarding this diseae in people and small ruminants. The papers that were found indicated that bovine brucellosis is endemic in Sri Lanka and that Brucella abortus is the species most frequently identified in cattle and water buffalo, potentially accounting for a substantial proportion of bovine abortions in the country.

This suggests that improvement of the existing control programme or the recommendation of better and economically feasible control options is essential. Moreover, the development and application of an economic policy evaluation model is identified as a critical need.

The solution

Eradication of the disease would be the ideal outcome, but being a developing country Sri Lanka has to ensure that the most cost-effective control options are used to minimise the impacts of brucellosis on human health, as well as on animal health and productivity. 

Aim of this project

The overall aim of this project is to formulate evidence-based recommendations to guide government policy on enhancing brucellosis control in Sri Lanka.

Study design

  • As the basis for formulation of recommendations, the present project will use a systematic review approach to review and analyse existing published and unpublished data on brucellosis in Sri Lanka.
  • Data information gaps in human and animal brucellosis epidemiology and brucellosis control strategies will be identified.
  • Cost-benefit analyses will be conducted to demonstrate the expected net benefit of effective control strategies.


  1. To review and analyse existing data for Sri Lanka in the following areas:
  • Occurrence of suspected and confirmed human cases of brucellosis.
  • Sero-prevalence of brucellosis (B. abortus, B. melitensis and B. suis) in cattle, buffalo, goats and swine.
  • Confirmed diagnosis of brucellosis from cattle and buffalo abortions.
  • Livestock population estimates and husbandry practices relevant to brucellosis.
  • The practices of harvesting, treating (eg boiling) and consuming milk by rural and peri-urban households in relation to risk of contracting brucellosis.
  • Practices for control of brucellosis in animals.
  1. To perform cost benefit analyses to demonstrate the net benefit of effective control strategies by obtaining information on, or by estimating:
  • Vaccine production and implementation cost to the government.
  • Cost and benefit of preventing abortions among animals by vaccination.
  • Cost of serological testing of animals.
  • Cost to eliminate positive reactors.
  • Cost to the government in paying compensation to the owners of eliminated animals.
  • Economic loss to the government by eliminating animals that results from reduction in national output of meat and milk.
  • Cost of human brucellosis, diagnosis, treatment of disease and complications and loss of work.
  1. To suggest relevant future control strategies for brucellosis in humans and in animals in Sri Lanka.