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Vet Res. 2006 Nov-Dec;37(6):827-33. Epub 2006 Sep 15.

Shedding routes of Coxiella burnetii in dairy cows: implications for detection and control.

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Unit of Animal Health Management, Veterinary School and INRA, BP 40706, 44307 Nantes Cedex 03, France.


Reliable detection of Coxiella burnetii shedders is a critical point for the control of the spread of this bacterium among animals and from animals to humans. Coxiella burnetii is shed by ruminants mainly by birth products (placenta, birth fluids), but may also be shed by vaginal mucus, milk, and faeces, urine and semen. However, the informative value of these types of samples to identify shedders under field conditions is unknown. Our aim was then to describe the responses obtained using a real-time PCR technique applied to milk, vaginal mucus and faeces samples taken from 242 dairy cows in commercial dairy herds known to be naturally infected with Coxiella burnetii, and to assess their putative associations. Positive results were found in all types of tested samples even in faeces. No predominant shedding route was identified. Among the shedder cows, 65.4% were detected as shedders by only one route. By contrast, cows with positive results for all three samples were scarce (less than 7%). Testing a cow based on only one type of biological sample may lead to misclassify it with regards to its shedding of Coxiella burnetii and thereby underestimate the risk of bacterial spread within a herd.

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