Clinical, epidemiological and epizootic features of a Q fever outbreak in the border region between Serbia and Montenegro
Introduction: Q fever is a zoonosis which commonly manifests as an acute febrile disease accompanied by pneumonia or hepatitis. The aim of this study was to reveal the reservoirs, sources and routes of infection relevant for the Q fever outbreak that occurred in the border region between Serbia and Montenegro.
Methodology: A prospective study was conducted from 3rd to 23rd March, 2016 in Brodarevo, village near the Serbian-Montenegro border. The EU case definition for Q fever was applied and serological evidence of IgM and/or IgG antibody for phase II antigen Coxiella burnetii used for laboratory confirmation. Animal infection was proven by detection of specific biomarkers for Q fever by ELISA and Real-Time PCR.
Results: In total, ten patients were registered with Q fever, giving an attack rate of 0.5% in the village. A severe form of disease with atypical pneumonia ended up with hospitalization of eight patients. Serological surveillance was conducted in 30 herds of the receptive animals in the outbreak area. Overall the anti-Coxiella antibody seroprevalence was 20.6%. Positive molecular findings (68.4%) accompanied with high seroprevalence (63.2%) were identified in a mini-farm of sheep and cattle in the nearby Orasac, these were considered to be active sources of infection. The most probable route of C. burnetii transmission was the inhalation of contaminated aerosols originating from infected animals.
Conclusion: The main reservoirs for human Q fever at the border region between Serbia and Montenegro are infected cattle and ruminants. Adoption of a comprehensive strategy for disease prevention and control at the intergovernmental level is urgent.
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