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In 2020, the reclassification of Ochrobactrum species to the genus Brucella based on recent gene-content analysis studies was proposed. There are several implications of adopting the name of Brucella for these organisms. If laboratories report these organisms simply as Brucella species without including additional report comments or education around the name update, clinicians who are unaware of the alternate name may inappropriately treat patients as having brucellosis, which implies disease due to classic Brucella species. Furthermore, cultures of certain species of Brucella are considered select agents and must be handled and shipped as category A infectious substances, according to International Air Transport Association (IATA) and the United States Department of Transportation (DOT). Variability of select agent designation within the genus Brucella can lead to confusion in laboratory handling and reporting.  

This guideline answers frequently asked questions regarding this taxonomic change including impacted species, potential clinical implications and guidance on distinguishing between Brucella (Ochrobactrum) species from agents of brucellosis. 

This guideline was developed on behalf of the American Society for Microbiology Clinical and Public Health Microbiology Committee, Laboratory Practices Subcommittee. 

Contact Information  

ASM's Clinical and Public Health Microbiology Committee,