Q fever disease caused by infection with Coxiella burnetii, is endemic in Southeast Queensland, Australia. C. burnetii has been identified in a wide range of animals including traditional sources such as cattle, sheep and goats but also, domestic mammals, Australian marsupials and ticks. Limited data exists on wild dog populations in Queensland and the role that these animals may play in C.burnetii transmission to livestock, and potentially to humans.
This study aims to investigate evidence of C. burnetii exposure and bacterial shedding in a convenience set of samples collected from wild dogs roaming Southeast Queensland, Australia. Samples were obtained from peri-urban wild dogs captured as part of a large pest management program conducted in Southeast Queensland between August 2012 and May 2015. Sera from 39 canines was investigated using IFA for C.burnetii exposure and direct transmission was assessed by screening 107 faecal samples using PCR with dual targets specific to C. burnetii, IS1111 and Com1. Whole blood from 77 canines were also screened using real-time PCR for dual targets. Geographical locations of wild dogs included in our sample sets were mapped. Preliminary serological screening detected evidence of C. burnetii exposure in dogs across a wide geographical area while faecal samples showed evidence of bacterial dissemination into the environment.
The results of this study provide insights into the potential role of peri-urban, wild dogs as a reservoir and possible source of C. burnetii transmission in Queensland.