Epidemiological study of Coxiella burnetii in dairy cattle and small ruminants in Québec, Canada
Article [Accepted Manuscript]
Is part ofPreventive veterinary medicine ; vol. 191, no. (June 2021).
The bacterium Coxiella burnetii (C. burnetii) can infect a wide range of animals, most notably ruminants where it causes mainly asymptomatic infections and, when clinical, it is associated with reproductive disorders such as abortion. It is also the etiological agent of Q fever in humans, a zoonosis of increasingly important public health concern. A cross-sectional study was performed to estimate the apparent prevalence and spatial distribution of C. burnetii positivity in dairy cattle and small ruminant herds of two regions of Québec, Canada, and identify potential risk factors associated with positivity at animal and herd levels. In dairy cattle herds, individual fecal samples and repeated bulk tank milk samples (BTM) were collected. In small ruminant herds, serum and feces were sampled in individual animals. ELISA analyses were performed on serum and BTM samples. Real-time quantitative PCR (qPCR) was done on fecal and BTM samples. An animal was considered C. burnetii-positive when at least one sample was revealed positive by ELISA and/or qPCR, while a herd was considered C. burnetii-positive when at least one animal inside that herd was revealed positive. None of the 155 cows had a qPCR-positive fecal sample, whereas 37.2 % (95 % CI = 25.3–49.1) of the 341 sheep and 49.2 % (95 % CI = 25.6–72.7) of the 75 goats were C. burnetii-positive. The apparent prevalence of C. burnetii-positive herds was 47.3 % (95 % CI = 35.6–59.3) in dairy cattle herds (n = 74), 69.6 % (95 % CI = 47.1–86.8) in sheep flocks (n = 23) and 66.7 % (95 % CI = 22.3–95.7) in goat herds (n = 6). No spatial cluster of positive herds was detected. At the individual level, the only significant association with positivity in multivariable regressions was higher parity number in small ruminants. At the herd level, the use of calving group pen, the distance to the closest positive bovine herd, and small ruminant herd density in a 5 km radius were associated with dairy cattle herd positivity, whereas small ruminant herds with more than 100 animals and with a dog on the farm had greater odds of C. burnetii positivity. Our study shows that the infection is frequent on dairy cattle and small ruminant herds from the two studied regions and that some farm and animal characteristics might influence the transmission dynamics of the C. burnetii infection.