Molecular evidence to suggest pigeon-type Chlamydia psittaci in association with an equine foal loss

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Journal Article
Transboundary and Emerging Diseases, 2018, 65 (3), pp. 911 - 915
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© 2018 Blackwell Verlag GmbH Chlamydia psittaci is an important avian pathogen with spillover from infected wild and domesticated birds also posing a risk to human health. We recently reported a case of C. psittaci equine placentitis associated with further spillover to humans. Molecular typing of this case revealed it belonged to the 6BC clade of C. psittaci, a globally distributed highly virulent set of strains, typically linked to infection spillover from parrots. Equine chlamydiosis associated with C. psittaci infection has previously been reported elsewhere in countries where parrots are not endemic, however, raising questions over the identity of infecting C. psittaci strains and the potential infection reservoirs. In this study, we describe the detection and molecular characterization of C. psittaci in a case of equine abortion in southern Queensland. Equine placenta and fresh liver and lung tissue from the necropsied foetus were positive by C. psittaci-specific qPCR. Chlamydia psittaci-specific multilocus sequence typing and ompA genotyping were used to further characterize the detected equine strains and an additional strain obtained from a dove from a different geographic region presenting with psittacosis. Molecular typing of this case revealed that the infecting equine strains were closely related to the C0sittaci detected in dove, all belonging to an evolutionary lineage of C. psittaci strains typically associated with infections of pigeons globally. This finding suggests a broader diversity of C. psittaci strains may be detected in horses and in association with reproductive loss, highlighting the need for an expansion of surveillance studies globally to understand the epidemiology of equine chlamydiosis and the associated zoonotic risk.
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