Prevalence of the Most Common Virulence-Associated Genes among Brucella Melitensis Isolates from Human Blood Cultures in Hamadan Province, West of Iran
Brucellosis is a widespread zoonotic disease causing considerable economic and public health problems. Despite animal vaccination, brucellosis remains endemic in some areas such as Iran, especially in the western Iranian province of Hamadan. We sought to detect some of the most common virulence-associated genes in Brucella isolated from human blood cultures to determine the prevalence of some virulence genes among Brucella isolates. Fifty-seven isolates were studied from patients with a clinical diagnosis of brucellosis who referred to the Infectious Diseases Ward of Sina Hospital in Hamadan Province, Iran, between April 2013 and July 2014. Blood samples were collected for the diagnosis of brucellosis using the BACTEC blood culture system. All of these isolates were confirmed by the bcsp31 Brucella-specific gene. We detected 11 virulence-associated genes of Brucella, namely cβg, virB, znuA, ure, bvfA, omp25, omp31, wbkA, mviN, manA, and manB, which are important for the pathogenesis of this bacterium in the intracellular environment by multiplex PCR. Totally, 149 patients with a clinical diagnosis of brucellosis were enrolled in this study. Fifty-seven (38.3%) patients had positive blood cultures. On biochemical and molecular testing, all of the isolates were Brucella melitensis. Ten of the virulence genes were detected among all of the 57 isolates, but the bvf gene was detected in 53 (93%) isolates. The high prevalence of virulence-associated genes among the Brucella isolates detected in Hamadan Province, Iran, underscores the pathogenicity of this bacterium in this region.