Scientists at Neiker-Tecnalia, the Basque Institute for Agricultural Research and Development, have evaluated the effect of treatment with antibiotics and vaccination in controlling Q fever in sheep flocks. This disease mainly causes abortions, although it can also lead to premature births, low weight and weakness in newborn lambs. The control of this disease is of great importance in animal production, as it spreads easily among the animals and causes significant economic losses, and mainly because it can be transmitted to people in contact with infected livestock.
Q fever is a zoonotic disease one that animals can transmit to humans spread all over the world and caused by the bacteria Coxiella burnetii. In animals it causes mainly reproductive problems. In people, Q fever can be asymptomatic or like a flu syndrome; however, in acute cases pneumonia and/or hepatitis can appear.
Neiker-Tecnalia's research has been focussed on sheep, since this species is one of the main reservoirs of infection in the Basque Country. The researchers found that 74% of the flocks of sheep in the Basque Autonomous Community (region) had at least one animal with Coxiella burnetii antibodies. Presence of antibodies indicates that the animal has been in contact with the bacteria, but it does not mean that it has necessarily developed Q fever. In the case of goats herds the percentage of seroprevalence was 45%; and in cattle herds, 43%.
The first method used to control Q fever in naturally infected flocks was based on the application of the antibiotic oxytetracycline. The researchers gave the antibiotic to pregnant ewes at 100 and 120 days of gestation, and abortion rate was reduced to levels lower than 4%. However, oxytetracycline did not prove to be effective in reducing the infection nor the number of bacterial shedding. So Neiker-Tecnalia is proposing that a greater research effort has to be done in this field of veterinary medicine, since there ar
|Contact: Irati Kortabitarte|