Interlaboratory comparison of real-time polymerase chain reaction methods to detect Coxiella burnetii, the causative agent of Q fever

Jones, R. M.; Hertwig, S.; Pitman, J.; Vipond, R.; Aspan, A.; Bolske, G.; McCaughey, C.; McKenna, J. P.; van Rotterdam, B. J.; de Bruin, A.; Ruuls, R.; Buijs, R.; Roest, H. J.; Sawyer, J.

The bacterium Coxiella burnetii, which has a wide host range, causes Q fever. Infection with C. burnetii can cause abortions, stillbirth, and the delivery of weak offspring in ruminants. Coxiella burnetii infection is zoonotic, and in human beings it can cause chronic, potentially fatal disease. Real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) is increasingly being used to detect the organism and to aid in diagnosis both in human and animal cases. Many different real-time PCR methods, which target different genes, have been described. To assess the comparability of the C. burnetii real-time PCR assays in use in different European laboratories, a panel of nucleic acid extracts was dispatched to 7 separate testing centers. The testing centers included laboratories from both human and animal health agencies. Each laboratory tested the samples using their in-house real-time PCR methods. The results of this comparison show that the most common target gene for real-time PCR assays is the IS1111 repeat element that is present in multiple copies in the C. burnetii genome. Many laboratories also use additional real-time PCR tests that target single-copy genes. The results of the current study demonstrate that the assays in use in the different laboratories are comparable, with general agreement of results for the panel of samples.

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Jones, R. M. / Hertwig, S. / Pitman, J. / et al: Interlaboratory comparison of real-time polymerase chain reaction methods to detect Coxiella burnetii, the causative agent of Q fever. 2011.

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