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Occurrence of Chlamydiae in Corvids in Northeast Italy

Chlamydiaceae occurrence has been largely evaluated in wildlife, showing that wild birds are efficient reservoirs for avian chlamydiosis. In this study, DNA extracted from cloacal swabs of 108 corvids from Northeast Italy was screened for Chlamydiaceae by 23S real-time (rt)PCR. The positive samples were characterised by specific rtPCRs for Chlamydia psittaci, Chlamydia abortus, Chlamydia gallinacea, Chlamydia avium, Chlamydia pecorum and Chlamydia suis. Cloacal shedding of Chlamydiaceae was detected in 12 out of 108 (11.1%, 5.9%–18.6% 95% CI) corvids sampled. Molecular characterisation at the species level was possible in 8/12 samples, showing C. psittaci positivity in only one sample from a hooded crow and C. abortus positivity in seven samples, two from Eurasian magpies and five from hooded crows. Genotyping of the C. psittaci-positive sample was undertaken via PCR/high-resolution melting, clustering it in group III_pigeon, corresponding to the B genotype based on former ompA analysis. For C. abortus genotyping, multilocus sequence typing was successfully performed on the two samples with high DNA load from Eurasian magpies, highlighting 100% identity with the recently reported Polish avian C. abortus genotype 1V strain 15-58d44. To confirm the intermediate characteristics between C. psittaci and C. abortus, both samples, as well as two samples from hooded crows, showed the chlamydial plasmid inherent in most C. psittaci and avian C. abortus, but not in ruminant C. abortus strains. The plasmid sequences were highly similar (≥99%) to those of the Polish avian C. abortus genotype 1V strain 15-58d44. To our knowledge, this is the first report of avian C. abortus strains in Italy, specifically genotype 1V, confirming that they are actively circulating in corvids in the Italian region tested.



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