Pioneering Research on Brucellosis

Groundbreaking Study in Kenya

Dr. Athman Mwatondo with Chair of the Department Dr. Marianne Mureithi

Athman Mwatondo, a PhD scholar from the University of Nairobi's Department of Medical Microbiology and Immunology, has led a critical study on brucellosis, a neglected zoonotic disease impacting humans and livestock. This research, part of his ongoing doctoral research, was supervised by mentors Dr. Marianne Mureithi and Dr. Stephen Gichuhi from the University of Nairobi, alongside Dr. Bernard Bett from the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI).

Brucellosis: A Significant Health Concern

Brucellosis, caused by Brucella spp., is a major health issue in developing countries like Kenya. It leads to severe illness in humans and substantial socio-economic losses in livestock-dependent communities. Mwatondo's study delves into the seroprevalence—the occurrence of antibodies in the blood—of this disease in the Garbatula sub-county, Isiolo County, a pastoral region in northern Kenya.

The Study's Approach

Dr. Mwatondo's team conducted a comprehensive cross-sectional survey. They collected and analyzed blood samples from 683 humans and 2157 animals. They detected Brucella immunoglobulin G (IgG) antibodies using enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays. Alongside laboratory analysis, a structured questionnaire helped gather data on potential risk factors linked to human and animal exposures.

Key Findings

The study revealed significant findings:
- A 10.4% seroprevalence of Brucella spp. in livestock.
- Camels showed the highest exposure rates.
- In humans, individual and household seroprevalences were 54.0% and 86.4%, respectively.
- Major risk factors for humans included being male, residing in specific areas, and having no formal education.

Impact of the Study

This research has several implications:
- Highlights the urgent need for awareness and intervention strategies against brucellosis.
- Stresses the importance of safe handling practices for livestock and their products.
- Suggests the implementation of vaccination programs for animals.
- Calls for establishing a One Health surveillance system for early disease detection.


Dr. Athman Mwatondo's research is a significant contribution to the field of medical microbiology, One Health and public health. It advances academic knowledge and serves as a crucial guide for policymakers and health practitioners in developing effective strategies to combat brucellosis in pastoralist communities. The study, under the guidance of experienced mentors and in collaboration with ILRI, reflects the University of Nairobi's commitment to addressing global health challenges and build on the One Health Approach.