Two abortions associated with Coxiella burnetii occurred in a group of 34 pregnant ewes. The seroprevalence of C bumetii infection was studied by using an ELISA and the immunofluorescence (IF) assay was applied to the contents of vaginal swabs. In addition, a KCR assay, with primers based on a transposonlike repetitive region of the C bumetii genome (trans-PCR), was used for the highly sensitive and specific detection of C bumetii in vaginal swabs, milk and faeces. Of the 34 animals tested at parturition, eight (24 per cent) were positive by ELISA, 11 (32 per cent) were positive by IF, and 15 (44 per cent) were positive when the vaginal swab extract was subjected to the trans-PCR assay. C bumetii was therefore detected by PCR in the vaginal swabs of seven seronegative ewes. However, five weeks after lambing, 16 (47 per cent) of the animals tested were ELISA positive but only two animals (6 per cent) were positive by PCR. Among the ELISAand PCR-positive animals, eight (25 per cent) shed coxiella in their milk and six (18 per cent) did so in their faeces.
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