Seroprevalence of Coxiella burnetii in pig-hunting dogs from north Queensland, Australia

B. Orr, R. Malik, M. E. Westman, J. M. Norris

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Abstract

The causative agent of Q fever, Coxiella burnetii, is endemic to Queensland and is one of the most important notifiable zoonotic diseases in Australia. The reservoir species for C. burnetii are classically ruminants, including sheep, cattle and goats. There is increasing evidence of C. burnetii exposure in dogs across eastern and central Australia. The present study aimed to determine if pig-hunting dogs above the Tropic of Capricorn in Queensland had similar rates of C. burnetii exposure to previous serosurveys of companion dogs in rural north-west New South Wales. A total of 104 pig-hunting dogs had serum IgG antibody titres to phase I and phase 2 C. burnetii determined using an indirect immunofluorescence assay test. Almost one in five dogs (18.3%; 19/104; 95% confidence interval 9.6%–35.5%) were seropositive to C. burnetii, with neutered dogs more likely to test positive compared to entire dogs (P = 0.0497). Seropositivity of the sampled pig-hunting dogs was one of the highest recorded in Australia. Thirty-nine owners of the pig-hunting dogs completed a survey, revealing 12.8% (5/39) had been vaccinated against Q fever and 90% (35/39) were aware that both feral pigs and dogs could potentially be sources of C. burnetii. Our findings indicate that pig hunters should be aware of the risk of exposure to Q fever during hunts and the sentinel role their dogs may play in C. burnetii exposure.

Original languageEnglish
JournalAustralian Veterinary Journal
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2022

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