Serological and Molecular Investigation of Coxiella burnetii in Small Ruminants and Ticks in Punjab, Pakistan
Coxiellosis is a zoonotic disease caused by the obligate intracellular bacterium Coxiella burnetii affecting the productive and reproductive capabilities of animals. This study was conducted to gain insight into the seroprevalence of coxiellosis in small ruminants in seven farms of the Punjab, Pakistan. Potential risk factors were assessed. In total, 1000 serum samples (500 from sheep and 500 from goats) and 163 ticks were collected from the ruminants. All these 163 ticks were merged into 55 pools (29 pools for ticks from sheep and 26 pools for ticks from goat). Serum samples were investigated using an indirect ELISA and PCR. Coxiella burnetii DNA was detected in 29 pooled seropositive samples and 11 pooled ticks by real-time qPCR. Serological analysis revealed a prevalence of 15.6% and 15.0% in sheep and goats, respectively. A significant association was found between seropositivity and different variables like district, lactational status, reproductive status, body condition and reproductive disorders. Univariate analysis showed that detection of C. burnetii DNA in tick pools was significantly associated with the presence of ticks on sheep and goats. However, a non-significant association was found for the prevalence of C. burnetii DNA in serum pools. Hence, C. burnetii infection is prevalent in small ruminants and ticks maintained at livestock farms in Punjab, Pakistan.