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Institute of Bacterial Infections and Zoonoses (IBIZ)

National Reference Laboratories for Ovine Epididymitis

Infectious epididymitis (ovine epididymitis) is caused by infection with Brucella (B.) ovis. The agent belongs to the genus Brucella (for more detailed information in German language please refer to the Amtliche Methodensammlung under „Brucellose der Rinder, Schweine  und  Ziegen“). Although B. ovis is no human pathogen, it is classified into risk group 3 according to TRBA 466** and must be handled in laboratories of safety level S3.

The causative agent of infectious epididymitis does not cause human disease.

The agent causes clinical or subclinical disease of the genital organs of sheep, which can lead to reduced fertility of rams, sporadic abortions of ewes, and increased perinatal mortality of lambs. In rams, epididymitis causes unilateral or, less frequently, bilateral epididymal swelling. So far, the disease has only been observed in sheep and deer. 

  • Support of state veterinary diagnostic agencies, in particular in clarifying unclear findings (problem of cross-reactivity with Yersiniae)
  • Pathogen detection and differentiation (bacteriological and molecular biological methods)
  • Optimization of diagnostics
  • Organization of ring trials
  • Provision of diagnostic reagents which are not commercially available to diagnostic institutions

The pathogen Brucella ovis is the causative agent of a disease in rams which is known as infectious or contagious epididymitis (ovine epididymitis) and so far has been detected mainly in continental Europe, North and South America, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa. It is to be expected that the infection can occur in most regions with a high rate of sheep farming. The disease is characterized by testicular and epididymal inflammation. Single cases of abortions in ewes and increased perinatal mortility in lambs have been observed. Reduced fertility, costs for control measures and trade restrictions lead to high economic losses for sheep farmers.