Q fever is a zoonosis caused by the intracellular bacterium Coxiella burnetii. Both humoral and cellular immunity are important in the host defence against intracellular bacteria. Little is known about the immune response to C. burnetii infections in domestic ruminants even though these species are the major source of Q fever in humans. To investigate the goat’s immune response we inoculated groups of pregnant goats via inhalation with a Dutch outbreak isolate of C. burnetii. All animals were successfully infected. Phase 1 and Phase 2 IgM- and IgG-specific antibodies were measured. Cellular immune responses were investigated by interferon-gamma, enzyme-linked immunosorbent spot test (IFN-¿ Elispot), lymphocyte proliferation test (LPT) and systemic cytokines. After two weeks post inoculation (wpi), a strong anti-C. burnetii Phase 2 IgM and IgG antibody response was observed while the increase in IgM anti-Phase 1 antibodies was less pronounced. IgG anti-Phase 1 antibodies started to rise at 6 wpi. Cellular immune responses were observed after parturition. Our results demonstrated humoral and cellular immune responses to C. burnetii infection in pregnant goats. Cell-mediated immune responses did not differ enough to distinguish between Coxiella-infected and non-infected pregnant animals, whereas a strong-phase specific antibody response is detected after 2 wpi. This humoral immune response may be useful in the early detection of C. burnetii-infected pregnant goats.
- coxiella-burnetii infection