Development of a species-specific real-time PCR test for Chlamydia psittaci and its employment in the investigation of zoonotic transmission from racing pigeons in Denmark

Species-specific detection of Chlamydia psittaci is challenging and all published PCR tests have so far shown deficiencies in specificity or sensitivity. The present investigation reports on the development of a species-specific real-time PCR assay for C. psittaci. The test is based on an 84 bp indel in a gene of unknown function that is unique to C. psittaci. The Cps-indel84-PCR assay was validated on a wide range of chlamydial and other bacterial strains as well as on clinical samples from animals and humans in two different diagnostic laboratories in Germany and Denmark. Furthermore, the test was employed for investigating samples from racing pigeon flocks in Denmark. The evaluation showed that the Cps-indel84-PCR assay has excellent test characteristics and is a highly reliable method for identifying C. psittaci in clinical samples both from humans and animals.

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