Evaluation of the Diagnostic Potential of Recombinant Coxiella burnetii Com1 in an ELISA for the Diagnosis of Q Fever in Sheep, Goats and Cattle
Coxiella burnetii is the causative agent of Q fever, a zoonosis infecting domestic ruminants and humans. Currently used routine diagnostic tools offer limited sensitivity and specificity and symptomless infected animals may be missed. Therefore, diagnostic tools of higher sensitivity and specificity must be developed. For this purpose, the C. burnetii outer membrane protein Com1 was cloned and expressed in Escherichia coli. The His-tagged recombinant protein was purified and used in an indirect enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). Assay performance was tested with more than 400 positive and negative sera from sheep, goats and cattle from 36 locations. Calculation of sensitivity and specificity was undertaken using receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curves. The sensitivities and specificities for sheep were 85% and 68% (optical density at 450nm, OD450 cut-off value 0.32), for goats 94% and 77% (OD450 cut-off value 0.23) and for cattle 71% and 70% (OD450 cut-off value 0.18), respectively. These results correspond to excellent, outstanding and acceptable discrimination of positive and negative sera. In summary, recombinant Com1 can provide a basis for more sensitive and specific diagnostic tools in veterinary medicine.