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Chlamydial infections in guinea-pigs and their zoonotic potential
Guinea-pigs are very popular pets and especially children like to be in very close contact with them. It is well-known that these pets can be a zoonotic risk, e.g. up to 30 percent of them are asymptomatic carriers of the dermatophyte Trichophyton mentagrophytes. But also chlamydiales can be a problem, as this new study from Zurich shows...

The aim was to detect and characterize chlamydial infections in guinea-pigs (GP) with ocular disease, study their pathogenicity and zoonotic potential and to test for the presence of Acanthamoebae spp. in GP eyes and to investigate whether they could act as vectors for Chlamydia-like organisms.

Overall 126 GP, of which 77 were symptomatic, were screened by clinical examination, cytology, gross pathology, histology, immunohistochemistry, polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and bacteriology.

A new Chlamydiaceae-specific intergenic spacer rRNA gene PCR, designed to amplify this segment linking the 16S and 23S regions, was performed. DNA samples were also received from one owner including samples of his cat and rabbit.

Guinea-pigs: 48 of 75 symptomatic, but only 11 of 48 asymptomatic GP were positive by PCR for Chlamydophila caviae guinea-pig inclusion conjunctivitis (GPIC) (P < 0.0001).

Eighteen of 75 or 15/48, respectively, were positive for DNA from Chlamydia-like organisms. Acanthamoebae-DNA could be found in two GP, of which one was symptomatic.

Owner, cat and rabbit: Samples of all three species were positive by PCR for C. caviae GPIC and the owner`s one-day disposable contact lenses showed a positive PCR result for the Chlamydia-like organism Parachlamydia acanthamoebae.

No Acanthamoebae-DNA could be detected.

This study is the first to describe Chlamydia-like organisms in GP and to detect C. caviae GPIC in human, cat and rabbit.

Therefore, C. caviae GPIC could pose a zoonotic potential. We believe that the finding of C. caviae GPIC in species other than GP is probably not unique.




Source: Lutz-Wohlgroth, L., Becker, A., Brugnera, E., Huat, Z. L., Zimmermann, D., Grimm, F., Haessig, M., Greub, G., Kaps, S., Spiess, B., Pospischil, A. & Vaughan, L. (2006): Chlamydiales in Guinea-pigs and Their Zoonotic Potential. In: Journal of Veterinary Medicine Series A 53 (4), 185-193.




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