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Multispecies Q Fever Outbreak in a Mixed Dairy Goat and Cattle Farm Based on a New Bovine-Associated Genotype of Coxiella burnetii

A Q fever outbreak on a dairy goat and cattle farm was investigated with regard to the One Health concept. Serum samples and vaginal swabs from goats with different reproductive statuses were collected. Cows, cats, and a dog were investigated with the same sample matrix. The farmer’s family was examined by serum samples. Ruminant sera were analyzed with two phase-specific enzyme-linked immunoassays (ELISAs). Dominant immunoglobulin G (IgG) phase II levels reflected current infections in goats. The cows had high IgG phase I and II levels indicating ongoing infections. Feline, canine, and human sera tested positive by indirect fluorescent antibody test (IFAT). Animal vaginal swabs were analyzed by qPCR to detect C. burnetii, and almost all tested positive. A new cattle-associated C. burnetii genotype C16 was identified by the Multiple-Locus Variable-number tandem repeat Analysis (MLVA/VNTR) from ruminant samples. Additionally, a possible influence of 17ß-estradiol on C. burnetii antibody response was evaluated in goat sera. Goats in early/mid-pregnancy had significantly lower levels of phase-specific IgGs and 17ß-estradiol than goats in late pregnancy. We conclude that the cattle herd may have transmitted C. burnetii to the pregnant goat herd, resulting in a Q fever outbreak with one acute human case. The influence of placentation and maternal pregnancy hormones during pregnancy on the immune response is discussed.

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