EPIDEMIOLOGICAL STUDY OF HUMAN BRUCELLOSIS IN THE KINGDOM OF SAUDI ARABIA; PRE- AND DURING COVID-19 PANDEMIC
Human Brucellosis in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Keywords:brucellosis, incidence, epidemiology, Saudi Arabia, COVID-19 pandemic
Brucellosis is one of the most reported zoonotic diseases that affects human health with subsequent economic losses. Brucellosis is an endemic disease in countries in many regions such as the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) in the Middle East. On 30 Jan 2020, the Director-General of the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared the novel coronavirus outbreak (later named COVID-19) a public health emergency of international concern. In KSA, on 2 March 2020, the first case of COVID-19 was confirmed. To contain the disease outbreak, partial and full suspension of public activities/curfew started in March and April. In this study, characterization of brucellosis in KSA from 2013-2019 (pre-pandemic), the year 2020 (pandemic control interventions’” year), and the year 2021is presented. Incidence data were obtained from the Ministry of Health’s (MoH) records for laboratory-confirmed cases. Extracted incidence data were analysed according to the nationality of the patients (Saudi and non-Saudi), gender (male and female), age, health regions (20 throughout KSA), and months. From 2013-2019, there were 28073 (mean; 4010) cases of human brucellosis reported. In 2020 and 2021, there were 2372 and 2400 cases of brucellosis reported, respectively. The decrease in 2021, which continued after easing PCI restrictions, is worth noting. This represents a decrease of 59.15% of reported cases compared to incidence means for the period 2013-2019. Compared to other studies, misdiagnosis, delayed diagnosis, patients not seeking medical examination, and dedicating much of the health sector for COVID-19 patients are likely reasons for brucellosis reporting reduction. However, and due to lack of additional necessary data, it is not possible currently to conclude that PCI have (or have not) influenced reducing brucellosis in KSA. Additionally, and in comparison, to reported regional and global incidence rates of the disease, reported rates from 2013-2019 in KSA are likely to be underreported.
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