Serological and Molecular Detection of Coxiella Burnetii in Clinical Samples from Veterinarians and Cattle Farm Workers from Gabrovo Region, Bulgaria

  • Petia Genova-Kalou National Centre of Infectious and Parasitic Diseases (NCIPD), Virology Department, 44A “Gen. Stoletov” Blvd., 1233 Sofia, Bulgaria
  • Stefka Krumova National Centre of Infectious and Parasitic Diseases (NCIPD), Virology Department, 44A “Gen. Stoletov” Blvd., 1233 Sofia, Bulgaria
  • Miroslav Parvanov Bulgarian Veterinary Association, 15A Pencho Slaveykov Blvd., 1606 Sofia, Bulgaria
  • Radostina Stefanova National Centre of Infectious and Parasitic Diseases (NCIPD), Virology Department, 44A “Gen. Stoletov” Blvd., 1233 Sofia, Bulgaria
  • Radoslav Marinov National Centre of Infectious and Parasitic Diseases (NCIPD), Virology Department, 44A “Gen. Stoletov” Blvd., 1233 Sofia, Bulgaria
  • Ivona Andonova National Centre of Infectious and Parasitic Diseases (NCIPD), Virology Department, 44A “Gen. Stoletov” Blvd., 1233 Sofia, Bulgaria
  • George Dyankov Bulgarian Veterinary Association, 15A Pencho Slaveykov Blvd., 1606 Sofia, Bulgaria
  • Konstantin Simeonov National Diagnostic and Research Veterinary Medical Institute "Prof. Dr. G. Pavlov”, Bulgarian Food Safety Agency (BFSA), 15A Pencho Slaveykov Blvd., 1606 Sofia, Bulgaria,
Keywords: Coxiella burnetii, seroepidemiology, end-point PCR, freelance veterinarians and cattle farm workers, Gabrovo regions, Bulgaria


Coxiella burnetii, which causes Q fever, is a highly infectious agent that is widespread around the world.  During the last decades, the number of cases reported in Bulgaria varied from year to year. The present study aimed to determine the frequency of C. burnetii infection using ELISA and conventional PCR among freelance veterinarians and cattle farm workers in Gabrovo province, Bulgaria. In the period April 2020 to June, 2021 a total of 154 blood samples of target group was tested in the National Reference Laboratory of Cell cultures, rickettsia and oncogenic viruses (NRL CCROV) at NCIPD - Sofia. Diagnosis of C. burnetii was performed by indirect enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay ELISA (anti-Coxiella burnetii ph. II IgG/IgM) and by end-point PCR technique (to detect the sodB gene region of C. burnetii). By indirect ELISA assay of the tested 154 clinical samples, anti-C. burnetii positive ph. II IgM antibodies were registered in 37% of samples. A relatively high percentage are affected in the active age between 50-60 years old. Anti-C. burnetii positive ph. II IgG antibodies were proven at 50% of tested samples. A positive PCR signal for C. burnetii DNA was obtained at 37/154 (20% of samples) and follows the above reported trend of acute infection of active age patients. Around 10% of tested samples were positive for three C. burnetii laboratory markers. We conclude that Q fever is endemic in Bulgaria. More research is necessary in different Bulgarian regions to set the human risk groups, to diagnose acute and chronic Q fever and to determine the economic impact of Q fever in the cattle industry. In the NRL CCROV was developed diagnostic scheme including complex methods to improve early laboratory diagnosis of C. burnetii, allowing taking proper treatment of suspected with Q fever patients.


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