Published: 13 May 2021

Simple Summary
We studied Q fever in an area of Spain where a significant number of human cases are diagnosed every year. Although animals are the only source of infection for people, this is the first study carried out in the autonomous community of Asturias that addresses in an integrated way the infection in domestic animals, wildlife and the environment as well as people. Our results revealed that a remarkable percentage of domestic ruminants and wild ungulates from all geographic areas of the region had been in contact with the infection?s causative agent (Coxiella burnetii). In addition, the bacteria could be detected in the air and/or the dust of livestock farms. Finally, a statistical analysis was carried out to investigate the risk factors (age, sex, geographical area, etc.) for the human population of the region. These findings will help local health authorities to focus on the origin of the problem and facilitate applying preventive measures in the affected livestock farms.

This study aimed to investigate the seroprevalence of C. burnetii in domestic ruminants, wild ungulates, as well as the current situation of Q fever in humans in a small region in northwestern Spain where a close contact at the wildlife?livestock?human interface exists, and information on C. burnetii infection is scarce. Seroprevalence of C. burnetii was 8.4% in sheep, 18.4% in cattle, and 24.4% in goats. Real-time PCR analysis of environmental samples collected in 25 livestock farms detected Coxiella DNA in dust and/or aerosols collected in 20 of them. Analysis of sera from 327 wild ungulates revealed lower seroprevalence than that found in domestic ruminants, with 8.4% of Iberian red deer, 7.3% chamois, 6.9% fallow deer, 5.5% European wild boar and 3.5% of roe deer harboring antibodies to C. burnetii. Exposure to the pathogen in humans was determined by IFAT analysis of 1312 blood samples collected from patients admitted at healthcare centers with Q fever compatible symptoms, such as fever and/or pneumonia. Results showed that 15.9% of the patients had IFAT titers ? 1/128 suggestive of probable acute infection. This study is an example of a One Health approach with medical and veterinary institutions involved in investigating zoonotic diseases.

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