A study to characterize the epidemiological status of brucellosis was carried out in the State of Minas Gerais. The State was divided in seven regions. Three hundred herds were randomly sampled in each region and a pre-established number of animals was sampled in each of these herds. A total of 20,643 serum samples from 2,204 herds were collected. In each herd, it was applied an epidemiological questionnaire focused on herd traits as well as husbandry and sanitary practices that could be associated with the risk of infection. The serum samples were screened for antibodies against Brucella spp. by the Rose-Bengal Test (RBT), and all positive sera were re-tested by the 2-mercaptoethanol test (2-ME). The herd was considered positive if at least one animal was positive on both RBT and 2-ME tests. The prevalence of infected herds and animals in the State were, respectively, 6.0% [5.0-7.1%] and 1.1% [0.78-1.4%]. In the productive regions, the prevalence of infected herds and animals were, respectively: regions 1, 4.7% [2.7-7.7%] and 0.82% [0.06-1.6%]; region 2, 7.2% [4.6-10.6%] and 1.2% [0.53-1.8%]; region 3, 6.8% [4.3-10.0%] and 1.5% [0.47-2.4%]; region 4, 6.5% [4.1-9.8%] and 1.1% [0.39-1.7%]; region 5, 3.8% [2.0-6.5%] and 0.40% [0.11-0.69%]; region 6, 6.2% [3.8-9.6%] and 0.66% [0.29-1.0%]; and region 7, 11.0% [7.7-15.0%] and 1.7% [0.92-2.6%]. The risk factors (odds ratio, OR) associated with positive herds were: purchase of breeding stock (OR = 1.66 [1.13-2.44]), occurrence of abortions over the last 12 months (OR = 1.81 [1.26-2.60]), and the presence of deer in the farm (OR = 1.56 [1.08-2.27]). Vaccination against brucellosis was a protective factor (OR = 0.38 [0.19-0.79]). It can be concluded that the compulsory vaccination of heifers, commenced in the 90's, was successful in reducing the prevalence of bovine brucellosis throughout the state and across livestock production systems. The animal health authorities should give priority to controlling the purchase of breeding stock without sanitary assurances and integrate this issue into the educational programmes.
cattle; brucellosis; prevalence; risk factors; Minas Gerais; Brazil