Serology for brucellosis is a blood test to look for the presence of antibodies against Brucella. This is the bacteria that causes the disease brucellosis.
How the Test is Performed
A blood sample is needed.
How to Prepare for the Test
There is no special preparation.
How the Test will Feel
When the needle is inserted to draw blood, some people feel moderate pain. Others feel only a prick or stinging. Afterward, there may be some throbbing or a slight bruise. This soon goes away.
Why the Test is Performed
Brucellosis is an infection that occurs from coming into contact with animals that carry Brucella bacteria.
Your health care provider may order this test if you have signs or symptoms of brucellosis. People working in jobs where they often come in contact with animals or meat, such as slaughterhouse workers, farmers, and veterinarians, are most likely to get this disease.
A normal (negative) result usually means you have not come in contact with the bacteria that causes brucellosis. However, this test may not detect the disease at an early stage. Your provider may have you come back for another test in 10 days to 3 weeks.
Infection with other bacteria, such as Yersinia, Francisella, and Vibrio, and certain immunizations can cause false-positive results.
Normal value ranges may vary slightly among different laboratories. Some labs use different measurements or test different samples. Talk to your provider about the meaning of your specific test results.
What Abnormal Results Mean
An abnormal (positive) result usually means you have come in contact with the bacteria that causes brucellosis.
However, this positive result does not mean that you have an active infection. Your provider will have you repeat the test after a few weeks to see if the test result increases. This increase is more likely to be a sign of a current infection.
Veins and arteries vary in size from one person to another and from one side of the body to the other. Obtaining a blood sample from some people may be more difficult than from others.
Other risks associated with having blood drawn are slight but may include:
- Excessive bleeding
- Fainting or feeling lightheaded
- Hematoma (blood accumulating under the skin)
- Infection (a slight risk any time the skin is broken)
Brucella serology; Brucella antibody test or titer
Chernecky CC, Berger BJ. Brucellosis agglutinins - blood. In: Chernecky CC, Berger BJ, eds. Laboratory Tests and Diagnostic Procedures. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2013:263-265.
Gul HC, Erdem H. Brucellosis (Brucella species). In: Bennett JE, Dolin R, Blaser MJ, eds. Mandell, Douglas, and Bennett's Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2015:chap 228.
Review Date 12/10/2015
Updated by: Jatin M. Vyas, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor in Medicine, Harvard Medical School; Assistant in Medicine, Division of Infectious Disease, Department of Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.