Camel brucellosis is a widespread zoonotic disease in camel-rearing countries caused by Brucella melitensis and Brucella abortus. The aim of this study was the first genetic analysis of B. melitensis strains isolated from dromedary camels (Camelus dromedarius) using multiple-locus variable-number tandem repeat analysis (MLVA). MLVA 16 and its MLVA 8 and MLVA11 subsets were used to determine the genotypes of 15 B. melitensis isolates from dromedary camels (11 strains) and other host species (4 strains) from the United Arab Emirates and the results were then compared to B. melitensis MLVA genotypes from other parts of the world. Five, including two novel genotypes were identified with MLVA 8. MLVA 16 further discriminated these five genotypes to ten variants. The eleven camel isolates clustered into four main genetic groups within the East-Mediterranean and African clades and this clustering correlated with the geographic origin of the hosts (United Arab Emirates, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Sudan) and the date of their isolation. The camel strains were also genetically related to strains isolated from wild and domestic ruminants from their close habitat or from other parts of the world. Although limited number of strains were analysed, based on our data imported animals from foreign countries, local small ruminants and wildlife species are hypothesized to be the main sources of camel brucellosis in the United Arab Emirates. MLVA was successfully applied to determine the epidemiological links between the different camel B. melitensis infections in the United Arab Emirates and it can be a beneficial tool in future disease control programs.
Keywords: Brucella melitensis; Brucellosis; Camel; Epidemiology; Genotyping; MLVA.