Experimental Coxiella burnetii infection in pregnant goats: excretion routesNathalie Arricau Bouvery, Armel Souriau, Patrick Lechopier and Annie Rodolakis
Pathologie Infectieuse et Immunologie, INRA, Tours-Nouzilly, 37380 Nouzilly, France
(Received 15 October 2002, accepted 21 March 2003)
Q fever is a widespread zoonosis caused by Coxiella burnetii. Infected animals, shedding bacteria by different routes, constitute contamination sources for humans and the environment. To study Coxiella excretion, pregnant goats were inoculated by the subcutaneous route in a site localized just in front of the shoulder at 90 days of gestation with 3 doses of bacteria (10 8, 10 6 or 10 4 I.D.). All the goats aborted whatever the dose used. Coxiella were found by PCR and immunofluorescence tests in all placentas and in several organs of at least one fetus per goat. At abortion, all the goats excreted bacteria in vaginal discharges up to 14 days and in milk samples up to 52 days. A few goats excreted Coxiella in their feces before abortion, and all goats, excreted bacteria in their feces after abortion. Antibody titers against Coxiella increased from 21 days post inoculation to the end of the experiment. For a Q fever diagnostic, detection by PCR and immunofluorescence tests of Coxiella in parturition products and vaginal secretions at abortion should be preferred to serological tests.
Key words: Coxiella burnetii / goat / experimental infection / abortion / shedding
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