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FEMS Immunol Med Microbiol. 2012 Feb;64(1):120-2. doi: 10.1111/j.1574-695X.2011.00893.x.

Coxiella burnetii vaginal shedding and antibody responses in dairy goat herds in a context of clinical Q fever outbreaks.

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Institut de l'Elevage, Paris, France.


This study, carried out in three goat herds, was aimed at describing individual responses to Q fever infection in an abortive context, focusing on both antibody and shedding levels. Seroprevalence of Coxiella burnetii (Cb) infection and vaginal shedding of 1083 goats were investigated using ELISA and realtime qPCR assays, respectively. At the end of the outbreaks, a seroprevalence of 45.0% was found, and vaginal shedding appeared massive with levels above 10(4) Cb per swab in 42.3% of the whole population and above 10(6) Cb per swab for 90.9% of aborted goats. Susceptible animals (i.e. seronegative nonshedders) were unfrequent (31.2%), most of them being kids (94.7%). Seronegative females were predominant among nonshedders and conversely seropositive ones, predominant among high shedders (above 10(6) Cb per swab). Nevertheless, at least 43.3% of seronegative goats shed bacteria confirming the need of interpreting serology on a herd scale. The subsequent farrowing period was characterized by a significant reduction in the number of clinical cases. Females that had already aborted were more often involved than others. Shedding quantities remained high, particularly for primiparous does, mainly when facing infection for the first time. Thus, Q fever control must be based on both preventive measures directed to the preherd and environmental precautions.

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