Abstract: Coxiella burnetii Infection

Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2005 Dec;1063:105-14.

Kazar J.

Research Base of the Slovak Medical University, Bratislava, Slovak Republic. jan.kazar@szu.sk.

Coxiella burnetii is an obligate intracellular bacterium that causes a worldwide zoonosis, Q fever, and can be misused as a biological warfare agent. Infection in animals (coxiellosis) is mostly persistent. Infection in humans is often asymptomatic, but it can manifest as an acute disease (usually a self-limited flu-like illness, pneumonia, or hepatitis) or as a chronic form (mainly endocarditis, but also hepatitis and chronic fatigue syndrome).

C. burnetii infection in pregnant women may result in abortions, premature deliveries, and stillbirths. Infection in nature is maintained and transmitted by ticks as the principal vector and reservoir. Cattle, sheep, and goats are the most important source of human infections. Humans contract C. burnetii infection mostly by aerosol in contact with contaminated environs, wind playing an important factor in spreading the infection.

The wide distribution of C. burnetii contributes to a high resistance of its extracellular small cell variant to environmental conditions. Its intracellular large cell variant, adapted to survive under harsh conditions of phagolysosomes, enables long-term survival and persistence of C. burnetii, namely in monocytes/macrophages. Host factors such as underlying disease and cell-mediated immunity play a decisive role in the clinical expression of C. burnetii infection.

Complete genome analysis of C. burnetii will certainly contribute to better understanding of the pathogenesis of C. burnetii infection and will improve Q fever diagnosis and immunoprophylaxis.

PMID: 16481501 [PubMed – in process]

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