Prevalence of Coxiella Burnetii in Dairy Herds - Diagnostic Methods and Risk to Humans - A Review


Q fever is a zoonotic disease caused by Coxiella burnetii. The main source of infection are ruminants (cattle, sheep, and goats). C. burnetii is excreted via birth products, vaginal mucus, milk, and faeces. Raw milk is considered useful for epidemiological examinations of animals and evaluation of infection dynamics at the herd level. This article summarises data on prevalence studies on C. burnetii in bulk-tank milk in different European countries with the means of serological tests and PCR. It also summarises the results of studies to evaluate the actual risk of disease transmission to humans through consumption of raw milk. Moreover, the available diagnostic tools for detection C. burnetii infection are presented.

If the inline PDF is not rendering correctly, you can download the PDF file here.

  • 1. Astobiza I., Barandika J.F., Ruiz-Fons, Piňero A., Barandika J.F., Hurtado A., García-Pérez A.L. Estimation of Coxiella burnetii prevalence in dairy cattle in intensive systems by serological and molecular analyses of bulk-tank milk samples. J Dairy Sci 2012 doi:10.3168/jds.2011-4721.

  • 2. Beck M.D, Bell J.A.: Q fever studies in southern California: an epidemiological study of 300 cases. Public Health Rep 1949, 64, 41-56.

  • 3. Benson W.W., Brock D.W., Mather J.: Serological analysis of a penitentiary group using raw milk from a Q fever infected herd. Public Health Rep 1963, 78, 707-710.

  • 4. Berri M., Rekiki A., Sidi Boumedine K., Rodolakis A.: Simultaneous differential detection of Chlamydophila abortus, Chlamydophila pecorum and Coxiella burnetii from aborted ruminant’s clinical samples using multiplex PCR. BMC Microbiol 2009, 9:130, doi:10.1186/1471-2180-9-130.

  • 5. Boarbi S., Mori M., Rousset E., Sidi-Boumedine K., van Esbroeck M., Fretin D.: Prevalence and molecular typing of Coxiella burnetii in bulk tank milk in Belgian dairy goats, 20092013. Vet Microbiol 2014, 170, 117-124.

  • 6. Böttcher J., Vossen A., Janowetz B., Alex M., Gangl A., Randt A., Meier N.: Insights into the dynamics of endemics Coxiella burnetii infection in cattle by application of phase-specific ELISAs in an infected dairy herd. Vet Microbiol 2011, 151, 291-300.

  • 7. Cerf O., Condron R.: For debate. Coxiella burnetii and milk pasteurization; an early application of the precautionary principle? Epidemiol Infect 2006, 134, 946-951.

  • 8. Czaplicki G., Houtain J.Y., Mullender C., Porter S.R., Humblet M.F., Manteca C., Saegerman C.: Apparent prevalence of antibodies to Coxiella burnetii (Q fever) in bulk tank milk from dairy herds in southern Belgium. Vet J 2012, 192, 529-531.

  • 9. EFSA: Scientific opinion on Q fever. EFSA J 2010, 8, 1595, 114.

  • 10. Eldin C., Angelakis E., Renvoisé A., Raoult D.: Coxiella burnetii DNA, but not viable bacteria, in dairy products in France. Am J Trop Med Hyg 2013, 88, 765-769.

  • 11. Georgiev M., Afonso A., Naubauer H., Needham H., Thiery R., Rodolakis A., Roest H., Stark K., Stegeman J., Vellema P., van der Hoeck W., More S.: Q fever in humans and farm animals in four European countries, 1982 to 2010. Euro Survey 18.

  • 12. Guatteo R., Beaudeau F., Joly A., Seegers H.: Assessing the within-herd prevalence of Coxiella burnetii milk-shedder cows using a real-time PCR applied to bulk tank milk. Zoonoses Public Health 2007, 54, 191-194.

  • 13. Guatteo R., Beaudeau F., Joly A., Seegers H.: Coxiella burnetii shedding by dairy cows. Vet Res 2007, 38, 849-860.

  • 14. Guatteo R., Beaudeau F., Joly A., Seegers H.: Prevention of Coxiella burnetii shedding in infected dairy herds using a phase I C. burnetii inactivated vaccine. Vaccine 2008, 26, 4320-4328.

  • 15. Guatteo R., Joly A., Beaudeau F.: Shedding and serological patterns of dairy cows following abortions associated with Coxiella burnetii DNA detection. Vet Microbiol 2012, 155, 430-433.

  • 16. Hermans M.H.A., Huijsmans C.J.J., Schellekens J.J.A.: Coxiella burnetii DNA in goat milk after vaccination with Coxevac. Vaccine 2011, 29, 2653-2656.

  • 17. Hilbert A., Blaha I., Fröhlich A., Hensler E., Reith P., Henning K., Contrasths F.J., Miller T.: Aspects seroepidemiological studies on Q fever in unvaccinated dairy cattle herds. Berl Munch Tierarztl Wochenschr 2014, 127, 149-157.

  • 18. Hirai A., Nakama A., Chiba T., Kai A.: Development of a method for detection Coxiella burnetii in cheese samples. J Vet Med 2012, 74, 175-180.

  • 19. Huijsmans C., Schellekens J.J.A., Wever P.C., Toman R., Savelkoul P.H.M., Jane I., Hermans M.H.A.: Single-nucleotidepolymorphism genotyping of Coxiella burnetii during a Q fever outbreaks in the Netherlands. Appl Environ Microbiol 2011, 77, 2051 -2057.

  • 20. Kimberley A.S., Stobierski M.G., Gandhi T.N.: Q fever cluster among raw milk drinkers in Michigan. Clin Infect Dis 2012, 55, 1387-1389.

  • 21. Loenhout J.A.F., Paget W.J., Vercoulen J.H., Wijkmans C.J., Hautvast J.L.A., van der Velden K.: Assessing the long-term health impact of Q-fever in the Netherlands: a prospective cohort study started in 2007 on the largest documented Q -fever outbreak to date. BMC Infect Dis 2012, 12:280.

  • 22. Krumbiegiel E.R., Wiśniewski H.J.: Q fever in the Milwaukee area. II. Consumption of infected raw milk by human volunteers. Arch Environ Health 1970, 21, 63-65.

  • 23. Luckacova M., Melincakva J., Kazar J.: Cross-reactivity between Coxiella burnetii and Chlamydiae. Folia Microbiol (Praha) 1999, 44, 579-584.

  • 24. Maltenzou H., Constantopoulou I., Kallegri C., Vlahou V., Georgakopoulos D., Kafetzis D.A., Raoult D.: Q fever in children in Greece. Am J Trop Med Hyg 2004, 70, 540-544.

  • 25. Muskens J., van Engelen E., van Mannen C., Bartels C., Lam T.J.G.M.: Prevalence of Coxiella burnetii infection in Dutch dairy herds based on testing bulk tank milk and individual samples by PCR and ELISA. Vet Rec. 2011, doi:10.1136/vr.c6106.

  • 26. Niemczuk K., Szymańska-Czerwińska M., Zarzecka A., Konarska H.: Q fever in a cattle herd and humans in the southeastern Poland. Laboratory diagnosis of the diseases using serological and molecular methods. Bull Vet Inst Pulawy 2011, 55, 593-598.

  • 27. Niemczuk K., Szymańska-Czerwińska M., Śmietanka K., Bocian Ł.: Comparison of diagnostics potential of serological, molecular and cell culture methods for detection of Q fever in ruminants. Vet Microbiol 2014, 171, 147-152.

  • 28. Piňero A., Barandika A., Hurtado A., Garcëa-Pérez A.L.: Evaluation of Coxiella burnetii status in dairy cattle herds with bulk-tank milk positive by ELISA and PCR. Transbound Emerg Dis 2014, 61, 163-168.

  • 29. Rodolakis A., Berri M., Héchard C., Caudron C., Souriau A., Bodier C.C., Blanchard B., Camuset P., Devillechaise P., Natorp J.C., Vadet J.P., Arricau-Bouvery N.: Comparison of Coxiella burnetii shedding in milk of dairy bovine, caprine and ovine herds. J Dairy Sci 2007, 90, 532-560.

  • 30. Kim S.G., Kim E.H., Lafferty C.J., Dubovi E.: Coxiella burnetii in bulk tank milk samples. Emerg Infect Dis 2005, 11, 619-621.

  • 31. Szymańska-Czerwińska M., Galińska E.M., Niemczuk K.: Prevalence of Coxiella burnetii infection in foresters and ticks in south-eastern Poland and comparison of diagnostics methods. Ann Agric Environ Med 2013, 4, 699-704.

  • 32. Szymańska-Czerwińska M., Niemczuk K.: Evaluation of the effectiveness of Q fever treatment with oxytetracycline. Bull Vet Inst Pulawy 2012, 56, 513-517.

  • 33. Valergakis G.E., Russell C., Grogono T., Bradley A.J., Eisler M.C.: Coxiella burnetii in bulk tank milk of dairy cattle in southwest England. Vet Rec 2012, doi: 10.1136/vr.100908.

  • 34. Vicari N., Faccini S., Ricchi M., Garbarino C., Decastelli L., Boldini M., Rosignoli C., Dalmasso A., Bronzo V., Fabbi M.: Occurrence of Coxiella burnetii in bulk tank milk from northwestern Italy. Vet Rec 2013, doi: 10.1136/vr101423.


Journal + Issues