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Seroprevalence of Coxiella burnetii Antibodies Among Ruminants and Occupationally Exposed People in Thailand, 2012–2013

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  • 1 Bureau of Epidemiology, Department of Diseases Control, Ministry of Public Health, Nonthaburi, Thailand.
  • 2 National Institute of Health, Department of Medical Science, Ministry of Public Health, Nonthaburi, Thailand.
  • 3 National Institute of Animal Health, Department of Livestock Development, Bangkok, Thailand.
  • 4 The Fifth Regional Livestock Office, Department of Livestock Development, Chiangmai, Thailand.
  • 5 Bureau of Disease Control and Veterinary Services, Department of Livestock Development, Bangkok, Thailand.
  • 6 Rickettsial Zoonoses Branch, National Center for Emerging Zoonoses and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia.
  • 7 Global Disease Detection Regional Center, Thai MOPH – U.S. CDC Collaboration, Ministry of Public Health, Thailand and Global Disease Detection Branch, Division of Global Health Protection, Center for Global Health, Nonthaburi, Thailand.

Little is known about the burden of Q fever in Thailand. We conducted a serological study to describe the prevalence of anti-Coxiella burnetii antibodies among ruminants and occupationally exposed persons in response to the report of the first two Q fever endocarditis patients in Thailand in 2012. We randomly selected ruminant sera from brucellosis surveillance and examined sera of 661 occupationally exposed subjects from two provinces of Thailand: Chiangmai and Nakornratchasima. Animal and human sera were tested using commercial enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). Environmental samples, vaginal swab, and milk from cows in Chiangmai farms with detectable anti-C. burnetii serum antibodies were tested using polymerase chain reaction (PCR). Among the 1,632 animal sera tested, 64 (3.9%) were seropositive. The prevalence was highest in dairy cattle (4.6%, 45/988), followed by goats (3.5%, 18/516) and sheep (2.1%, 1/48). The prevalence of anti-C. burnetii antibodies in each species varied significantly by province: the prevalence in cattle was higher in Chiangmai (5.5% versus 0%), however, the prevalence in sheep and goats was higher in Nakornratchasima (5.9% versus 1.0%). Four out of 60 milk samples were positive by PCR (6.7%). No environmental samples were positive. Among 661 human samples, 83 (12.6%) were ELISA positive. Seroprevalence was statistically higher in Chiangmai compare with Nakornratchasima (42.8% versus 3.0%). Coxiella burnetii infection exists in Thailand, but the prevalence varies by geographic distribution and animal reservoirs. Further studies focusing on the burden and risk factors of C. burnetii infection among high-risk groups should be conducted.

Author Notes

* Address correspondence to Gilbert J. Kersh, Rickettsial Zoonoses Branch, National Center for Emerging Zoonoses and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1600 Clifton Road, Atlanta, GA 30333. E-mail: hws7@cdc.gov

Authors' addresses: Pawinee Doung-ngern and Teerasak Chuxnum, Bureau of Epidemiology, Department of Diseases Control, Ministry of Public Health, Nonthaburi, Thailand, E-mails: pawind@gmail.com and tchuxnum@yahoo.com. Decha Pangjai, National Institute of Health, Department of Medical Science, Ministry of Public Health, Nonthaburi, Thailand, E-mail: decha.p@dmsc.mail.go.th. Pattarin Opaschaitat, National Institute of Animal Health, Department of Livestock Development, Bangkok, Thailand, E-mail: pattarin.o@gmail.com. Nattinee Kittiwan, National Institute of Animal Health, Department of Livestock Development, Lampang Branch, Thailand, E-mail: sieben_sins@hotmail.com. Pranee Rodtian, The Fifth Regional Livestock Office (Chiangmai), Department of Livestock Development, Chiangmai, Thailand, E-mail: pranee.rodtian@gmail.com. Noppawan Buameetoop, Bureau of Disease Control and Veterinary Services, Department of Livestock Development, Bangkok, Thailand, E-mail: fonmaiya@yahoo.com. Gilbert J. Kersh, Rickettsial Zoonoses Branch, National Center for Emerging Zoonoses and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA, E-mail: hws7@cdc.gov. Pawin Padungtod, Global Disease Detection Regional Center, Thai MOPH – U.S. CDC Collaboration, Ministry of Public Health, Thailand and Global Disease Detection Branch, Division of Global Health Protection, Center for Global Health, Nonthaburi, Thailand, E-mail: pawin.padungtod@fao.org.

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