Minimizing the risk of occupational Q fever exposure: A protocol for ensuring Coxiella burnetii–negative pregnant ewes are used for medical research

Laura A. Galganski, Benjamin A. Keller, Connor Long, Kaeli J. Yamashiro, Mennatalla S. Hegazi, Christopher D. Pivetti, Linda A. Talken, Gary W. Raff, Diana L. Farmer, Bruno B. Chomel, Betty Ma

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Q fever is a worldwide zoonosis caused by Coxiella burnetii that can lead to abortion, endocarditis, and death in humans. Researchers utilizing parturient domestic ruminants, including sheep, have an increased risk of occupational exposure. This study evaluated the effectiveness of our screening protocol in eliminating C. burnetii–positive sheep from our facility. From August 2010 to May 2018, all ewes (N = 306) and select lambs (N = 272; ovis aries) were screened twice for C. burnetii utilizing a serum Phase I and Phase II antibody immunofluorescence assay (IFA). The first screen was performed by the vendor prior to breeding, and the second screen was performed on arrival to the research facility. Ewes that were positive on arrival screening were quarantined and retested using repeat IFA serology, enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, buffy coat polymerase chain reaction (PCR), and amniotic fluid PCR. The overall individual seroprevalence of C. burnetii in the flocks tested by the vendor was 14.2%. Ewes with negative Phase I and Phase II IFA results were selected for transport to the research facility. Upon arrival to the facility, two (0.7%) ewes had positive Phase I IFA results. Repeat testing demonstrated seropositivity in one of these two ewes, though amniotic fluid PCR was negative in both. The repeat seropositive ewe was euthanized prior to use in a research protocol. No Q fever was reported among husbandry, laboratory or veterinary staff during the study period. Serologic testing for C. burnetii with IFA prior to transport and following arrival to a research facility limits potential exposure to research staff.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalLaboratory Animals
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2020

Keywords

  • Coxiella burnetii
  • fetal research
  • fetal surgery
  • occupational exposure
  • Q fever
  • zoonotic disease

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • veterinary(all)

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