Brucellosis, a zoonosis mainly transmitted by consumption of unpasteurized dairy products, is endemic in Southern Israel, mainly among the Bedouin Arab population. However, the genomic epidemiology of B. melitensis in this region has not yet been elucidated. A cohort of brucellosis cases (n = 118) diagnosed between 2017–2019 was studied using whole-genome sequencing (WGS). Phylogenetic analyses utilized core genome MLST (cgMLST) for all local isolates and core genome SNPs for 347 human-associated B. melitensis genomes, including Israeli and publicly available sequences. Israeli isolates formed two main clusters, presenting a notable diversity, with no clear dominance of a specific strain. On a global scale, the Israeli genomes clustered according to their geographical location, in proximity to genomes originating from the Middle East, and formed the largest cluster in the tree, suggesting relatively high conservation. Our study unveils the genomic epidemiology of B. melitensis in Southern Israel, implicating that rather than a common source, the transmission pattern of brucellosis among Bedouin communities is complex, predominantly local, and household-based. Further, genomic surveillance of B. melitensis is expected to inform future public health and veterinary interventions and clinical care.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- !!Microbiology (medical)