a1 University of Veterinary Medicine Hannover, Foundation, Germany
a2 Lower Saxony State Office for Consumer Protection and Food Safety, Veterinary Institute Hannover, Germany
a3 Baden-Württemberg State Health Office, Stuttgart, Germany
a4 University of Hohenheim, Germany
Animal losses due to abortion and weak offspring during a lambing period amounted up to 25% in a goat flock and up to 18% in a sheep flock kept at an experimental station on the Swabian Alb, Germany. Fifteen out of 23 employees and residents on the farm tested positive for Coxiella burnetii antibodies by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) and indirect immunofluorescence assay. Ninety-four per cent of the goats and 47% of the sheep were seropositive for C. burnetii by ELISA. Blood samples of 8% of goats and 3% of sheep were PCR positive. C. burnetii was shed by all tested animals through vaginal mucus, by 97% of the goats and 78% of the sheep through milk, and by all investigated sheep through faeces (PCR testing). In this outbreak human and animal infection were temporally related suggesting that one was caused by the other.
(Accepted December 07 2011)
(Online publication January 05 2012)
c1 Author for correspondence: R. Eibach, Clinic for Swine and Small Ruminants, University of Veterinary Medicine, Hannover, Bischofsholer Damm 15, D-30173 Hannover, Germany. (Email: Regina.Eibach@tiho-hannover.de)