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Prevalence of Coxiella burnetii in Hungary: screening of dairy cows, sheep, commercial milk samples, and ticks

Mary Ann Liebert
Publication Date
  • Clinical Laboratory
  • 570 Life Sciences
  • Biology
  • 630 Agriculture
  • Biology
  • Medicine


Q fever is an important zoonotic disease caused by Coxiella burnetii. There are few reliable data about C. burnetii infection available. The aim of this study was to assess the importance and potential infectious sources of Q fever in Hungary. A total of 215 milk samples (10 individual samples from each herd and 1 bulk tank milk sample from each cattle herd), and 400 serum samples (20 from each herd) were tested from 15 dairy cattle herds and 5 sheep flocks located in different parts of Hungary. The study found 19.3% (58/300) and 38.0% (57/150) seropositivity in cattle, and 0% (0/100) and 6.0% (3/50) seropositivity in sheep, by complement fixation test (CFT) and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA), respectively. C. burnetii DNA was detected by IS1111 element-based TaqMan real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) in 8.7% (13/150) of individual dairy cow milk samples, 4.0% (2/50) of individual sheep milk samples, and 66.7% (10/15) of dairy bulk tank milk samples. Samples taken from nine different commercially-available pasteurized cow milk products from different Hungarian producers were also tested for the presence of C. burnetii DNA, and eight of these samples were found to be positive (88.9%). The real-time PCR examination of 5402 ixodid ticks collected from different parts of the country yielded negative results. Knowledge of the true prevalence of Q fever is crucial for policymakers involved in evidence-based decision making.

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