Brucellosis is a zoonotic disease caused by bacteria of the genus Brucella. It is essentially a disease of animals with humans as an accidental host. Brucellosis has a negative socio-economic impact through its effect on bovine reproductive performance, its restriction on international trade of animals and their products and debilitating disease in humans (Corbel, 2006). Livestock and milk production are important contributors to food security and incomes. In humans it causes disease characterised by equivocal diagnosis and multisystem involvement that can progress to a chronic debilitating infection and possibly death. Six species are mainly responsible for brucellosis in animals and humans which are B. abortus, B. melitensis, B. canis, B. ovis, B. suis and B. neotomae. Other isolates have been found in marine animals including B. pinnipediae, B. maris and B. cetaceae (Cloeckaert, 2007; Corbel, 2006). Most developing countries experience a high prevalence of brucellosis and it is regarded as a neglected zoonosis by the World Health Organization (WHO, 2018).
A 2015 survey of ten SADC countries identified only rudimentary programmes in operation and no formal method of assessing their value or effectiveness (Abernethy, pers. comm.) These countries would benefit from an evaluation tool that can assess the effectiveness of their current brucellosis control programmes. Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) has been used for many years as a monitoring tool in food production, pharmaceuticals and engineering industries. Recently it has also been utilised to assist disease control programmes (Dupont, 2007; McAloon et al., 2015; Noordhuizen & Welpelo, 1996; Van Gelderen, 2015).
This project utilised the basic principles of HACCP to develop an evaluation tool for bovine brucellosis programmes at local, regional or international level, in a hope that the end result can be adopted as a standard framework for evaluating brucellosis disease control programmes. A process flow of a brucellosis programme was developed and Critical Control Point (CCP) equivalents identified that permit brucellosis organisms to persist or escape the system. A system of evaluating these CCPs was created and reviewed by selected brucellosis experts using a modified Delphi technique. The project produced a feasible evaluation tool (qualitative checklist) that can be used at different scales to evaluate brucellosis programmes.