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A longitudinal study of serological responses to Coxiella burnetii and shedding at kidding among intensively-managed goats supports early use of vaccines

Muleme, Michael, Campbell, Angus, Stenos, John, Devlin, JoanneM., Vincent, Gemma, Cameron, Alexander, Graves, Stephen, Wilks, ColinR., Firestone, Simon
Veterinary research 2017 v.48 no.1 pp. 50
Coxiella burnetii, Q fever, antibodies, breeding, cohort studies, confidence interval, farms, goats, herds, immunoglobulin M, kidding, longitudinal studies, polymerase chain reaction, risk factors, seroconversion, seroprevalence, vaccination, vaccines, veterinary medicine
Vaccination against Coxiella burnetii, the cause of Q fever, is reportedly the only feasible strategy of eradicating infection in ruminant herds. Preventive vaccination of seronegative goats is more effective in reducing shedding of C. burnetii than vaccinating seropositive goats. The age at which goats born on heavily-contaminated farms first seroconvert to C. burnetii has not yet been documented. In a 16-month birth cohort study, the age at which goats seroconverted against C. burnetii was investigated; 95 goats were bled every 2 weeks and tested for antibodies against C. burnetii. Risk factors for seroconversion were explored and goats shedding C. burnetii were identified by testing vaginal swabs taken at the goats’ first kidding using a com1 polymerase chain reaction assay. The first surge in the number of goats with IgM to C. burnetii was observed at week 9. Thus, a first vaccination not later than 8 weeks of age to control C. burnetii in highly contaminated environments is indicated. The odds of seroconversion were 2.0 times higher [95% confidence interval (CI) 1.2, 3.5] in kids born by does with serological evidence of recent infection (IgM seropositive) compared to kids born by IgM seronegative does, suggesting either in utero transmission or peri-parturient infection. The rate of seroconversion was 4.5 times higher (95% CI 2.1, 9.8) during than outside the kidding season, highlighting the risk posed by C. burnetii shed during kidding, even to goats outside the kidding herd. Shedding of C. burnetii at kidding was detected in 15 out of 41 goats infected before breeding.