Human disease from Chlamydia psittaci associated with equine foetal membranes and critically ill neonates: an example of a One Health approach to an emerging risk in a climate of poor diagnostic capacity and minimal funding

Jane Heller, C. Chicken, J. Carrick, Kris Hughes, A Polkinghorne, David Durrheim, K Taylor

Research output: Other contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review

Abstract

Psittacosis is a severe systemic infectious disease in humans caused by Chlamydia psittaci. While birds are traditionally considered to be the source of C.psittaci, a cluster of five cases of severe respiratory illness that occurred in individuals exposed to equine foetal membranes in Australia signalled the potential for a novel route of infection. The objective of this work was to identify the significance of this putative route of transmission for human disease.
Materials and methods: A coordinated One Health approach, involving stakeholders in each sector, was used to explore the potential risk that equine products of abortion may pose to human health. A cross-disciplinary expert
advisory group led the work, which consisted of a retrospective cohort study in veterinary workers exposed to foetal membranes, an enhanced surveillance system tracing human contacts of equine chlamydiosis cases, and a pilot risk factor study of stud farms in a premier breeding region in Australia. This work was conducted within the context of limited numbers of cases, diagnostic capacity and external funding.
Results: A strong association was made between direct contact with equine foetal membranes and illness (OR= 11.77) in the retrospective cohort study, confirming the membranes as a source. The enhanced surveillance
system was successful in increasing awareness, but despite numerous equine events, did not identify any laboratory-confirmed human cases within the region studied. However, heightened surveillance identified another human cluster in another region associated with exposure to a clinically unwell equine neonate where psittacosis was PCR confirmed. Some management practices were identified to be positively associated with farm likelihood of equine cases: frequent manure removal, increased frequency of feed trough cleaning and bird
sightings at feed sheds.
Conclusion: Equine foetal membranes and critically unwell neonates represent an emerging threat for transmission of C.psittaci to humans.
Original languageEnglish
Pages98
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 2018
Event15th International Symposium of Veterinary Epidemiology and Economics
- Chiang Mai, Thailand
Duration: 12 Nov 201816 Nov 2018

Conference

Conference15th International Symposium of Veterinary Epidemiology and Economics
CountryThailand
Period12/11/1816/11/18

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