How do you get the Rose Bengal Test at the point-of-care to diagnose brucellosis in Africa? The importance of a systems approach

Published Date
Acta Tropica
Ducrotoy MJ
Bardosh KL

Brucellosis is a major neglected zoonotic disease, whose burden both in animals and humans is severely under-reported. Diagnosis in humans identifies cases in order to treat the disease at the individual level. In animals diagnosis is implemented at the population level in the context of appropriate control or eradication strategies. Molecular and bacteriological diagnosis are rarely undertaken in sub-Saharan Africa, at least outside research projects, due to cost, skills and laboratory infrastructure issues. The brucellosis toolbox contains a wide range of serological tests, but the perfect test for use in animals and humans respectively does not exist. Drug and diagnostic discovery for the neglected zoonoses are notoriously poor, and there is limited investment interest in developing new tools for brucellosis diagnosis. But are current tools being used to their full capacity? The rose Bengal test (RBT) stands out as an efficient, practical and very cheap test adapted for use in the resource-poor context. In this paper, we argue that a social science or system's approach to explore the practicality of improving diagnostic capacity at the point-of care in high-risk brucellosis areas of rural Africa may be a step towards solving the issue of under-diagnosis, but this must go hand-in-hand with implementation of control measures at source in the animal reservoir and capacity to treat human cases.

Keywords: Africa; Animals; Brucellosis; Diagnostics; Human; Rose Bengal test; Serology; System's approach.