BACKGROUND: Brucellosis is a neglected zoonosis endemic in many countries, including regions of sub-Saharan Africa. Evaluated diagnostic tools for the detection of exposure to Brucella spp. are important for disease surveillance and guiding prevention and control activities.
METHODS AND FINDINGS: Bayesian latent class analysis was used to evaluate performance of the Rose Bengal plate test (RBT) and a competitive ELISA (cELISA) in detecting Brucella spp. exposure at the individual animal-level for cattle, sheep, and goats in Tanzania. Median posterior estimates of RBT sensitivity were: 0.779 (95% Bayesian credibility interval (BCI): 0.570-0.894), 0.893 (0.636-0.989), and 0.807 (0.575-0.966), and for cELISA were: 0.623 (0.443-0.790), 0.409 (0.241-0.644), and 0.561 (0.376-0.713), for cattle, sheep, and goats, respectively. Sensitivity BCIs were wide, with the widest for cELISA in sheep. RBT and cELISA median posterior estimates of specificity were high across species models: RBT ranged between 0.989 (0.980-0.998) and 0.995 (0.985-0.999), and cELISA between 0.984 (0.974-0.995) and 0.996 (0.988-1). Each species model generated seroprevalence estimates for two livestock subpopulations, pastoralist and non-pastoralist. Pastoralist seroprevalence estimates were: 0.063 (0.045-0.090), 0.033 (0.018-0.049), and 0.051 (0.034-0.076), for cattle, sheep, and goats, respectively. Non-pastoralist seroprevalence estimates were below 0.01 for all species models. Series and parallel diagnostic approaches were evaluated. Parallel outperformed a series approach. Median posterior estimates for parallel testing were ≥0.920 (0.760-0.986) for sensitivity and ≥0.973 (0.955-0.992) for specificity, for all species models.
CONCLUSIONS: Our findings indicate that Brucella spp. surveillance in Tanzania using RBT and cELISA in parallel at the animal-level would give high test performance. There is a need to evaluate strategies for implementing parallel testing at the herd- and flock-level. Our findings can assist in generating robust Brucella spp. exposure estimates for livestock in Tanzania and wider sub-Saharan Africa. The adoption of locally evaluated robust diagnostic tests in setting-specific surveillance is an important step towards brucellosis prevention and control.