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Prevalence of chlamydiae in ruminants´semen
A very important question after chlamydia-induced abortions in Swiss cattle have been reported. Chlamydiae infect male genital organs of ruminants. However, little is known about their prevalence. This brandnew study shows the results of a study performed in cooperation between Zurich and Bangkok.

Hence, we investigated fresh and cryopreserved semen (bulls: n=304; rams: n=78; bucks: n=44) by polymerase chain reaction (PCR), as well as genital organs (bulls: n=13; rams: n=10; bucks: n=6) by immunohistochemistry (IHC) and PCR.

Sera from bulls (n=104) and small ruminants (n=61) were tested by LPS and rMOMP (recombinant major outer membrane protein) ELISA and competitive ELISA (cELISA), respectively.

Three PCR assays were compared in this study for detection of chlamydial DNA in semen: 16S rRNA, IGS-S (intergenic spacer 16S/23S-short), and IGS-L (intergenic spacer 16S/23S-long) PCRs. PCR sensitivity and inhibitory effects were determined by spiking semen with Chlamydophila (Cp.) abortus DNA.

In bull semen, detection limits of the 16S, IGS-S and IGS-L PCRs were 10, 10, 100 templates, respectively.

However, PCR sensitivity was reduced in ram and buck semen suggesting the presence of potential PCR inhibitors.

Of 304 bull semen samples, the 16S PCR revealed DNA of chlamydiae in 20 samples (6.6%), including Cp. abortus (n=2), Cp. psittaci (n=1), Chlamydia suis (n=2), and Chlamydia-like organisms (n=15).

In rams, one semen sample was positive for Chlamydia-like organism. All investigated male genital organs were negative for Chlamydia.

Serology revealed 47.1% (49/104) positive bulls by LPS ELISA. Of these, 30 samples were positive by rMOMP ELISA, predominantly for Cp. pecorum. In small ruminants, cELISA displayed 34.8% (16/46) and 60% (9/15) positivity for Cp. abortus in rams and bucks, respectively.

There was no correlation between serology and PCR of semen. The presence of chlamydiae in semen suggests the possibility of venereal transmission, although risk may be low in Switzerland.


Source: Teankum K, Pospischil A, Janett F, Brugnera E, Hoelzle LE, Hoelzle K, Weilenmann R, Zimmermann DR, Gerber A, Polkinghorne A, Borel N. (2006): Prevalence of chlamydiae in semen and genital tracts of bulls, rams and bucks. In: Theriogenology. 2006 Aug 25; [Epub ahead of print]



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