Coxiella spp

From Dog
Electron microscopy of Coxiella burnetti'

Coxiella spp are an obligate intracellular Gram-negative aerobic zoonotic proteobacteria, responsible for 'Q-fever' in humans.

Although primarily a pathogen of cattle, dogs become exposed to the bacteria by foraging contaminated pastures where infectious placenta or birth fluids are present[1].

Species which are pathogenic to dogs include:

  • Coxiella burnetti[2]

Most dogs are asymptomatic carriers of this organism, but can transmit disease to humans[3] by infected birth fluids and membranes and by urine[4].

Routine sampling of dogs in regions where abattoirs are operational reveal seroprevalence rates of 20%[5], suggesting C. burnetii infection in domestic dogs may have public health implications for dog owners[6].

Military working dogs have been exposed to disease while deployed and are a potential source for human infection[7].

Diagnosis of canine infections is by serology (immunofluorescence assay) and/or PCR detection of C. burnetii DNA[8].


  1. Hilbert A et al (2011) Epidemiological enquiries in two Q fever outbreaks in a community of Baden-Württemberg during 2008 and 2009. Berl Munch Tierarztl Wochenschr 124(7-8):295-302
  2. Koch A et al (2010) Q fever in Greenland. Emerg Infect Dis 16(3):511-513
  3. Lemos ER et al(2011) Q fever as a cause of fever of unknown origin and thrombocytosis: first molecular evidence of Coxiella burnetii in Brazil. Vector Borne Zoonotic Dis 11(1):85-87
  4. Capuano F et al (2004) Coxiella burnetii: what is the reality? Parassitologia 46(1-2):131-134
  5. Zhang L et al (2011) Investigation of anaplasmosis in Yiyuan County, Shandong Province, China. Asian Pac J Trop Med 4(7):568-72
  6. Cooper A et al (2011) Serological evidence of Coxiella burnetii infection in dogs in a regional centre. Aust Vet J 89(10):385-387
  7. Havas KA & Burkman K (2011) A comparison of the serological evidence of Coxiella burnetii exposure between military working dogs and feral canines in Iraq. Mil Med 176(10):1101-1103
  8. Lockhart MG et al (2012) Comparative sensitivity of four different cell lines for the isolation of Coxiella burnetii. FEMS Microbiol Lett 334(2):75-78