Title: Epidemiology of chlamydial infections in livestock: Equine psittacosis and Cattle chlamydiosis
Abstract: The globally widespread Chlamydiae are known to infect a diverse host range including humans, terrestrial and marine animals, birds, insects and reptiles and cause a wide range of diseases. The most significant Chlamydiae to infect livestock are Chlamydia psittaci in horses, Chlamydia pecorum in cattle and Chlamydia abortus in small ruminants. Chlamydia abortus is currently considered exotic to Australia.
Chlamydia psittaci has long been known as a zoonotic infection with its classification as a bio threat class B select agent since the early 20th century. It was known to infect primarily birds with occasional reports of zoonotic infection to people. C. psittaci has recently emerged as an infection in horses with the devastating outcome of foal loss. It has further revealed a new zoonotic threat through contact with infected horses.
This study will aim to better understand the epidemiology of C. psittaci in the new host, the horse, with transmission studies and molecular characterisation of the infecting strains in horses and potential reservoir hosts. It will also model how on-farm risk factors may contribute to the infectious loads. This will potentially guide new diagnostic and management tools for the horse and man, including reducing zoonotic potential.
A pilot study using Australian dairy cattle was designed to model Chlamydiceae infection loads and management risk factors, such as hygiene of animals and infrastructure. Chlamydial infections are considered ubiquitous in cattle but there is currently no detailed information on infection dynamics and the impact on the animal in the Australian setting.
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