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Open Access Research article

Active surveillance of Q fever in human and animal population of Cyprus

Fidias Loukaides1, Christos Hadjichristodoulou2, Elpidoforos S Soteriades2, Virginia Kolonia2, Maria-Christina Ioannidou3, Anna Psaroulaki3* and Yannis Tselentis3

Author Affiliations

1 The Veterinary Services of Cyprus, Ministry of Agriculture, Athalassa avenue, Nicosia, Cyprus

2 Department of hygiene and epidemiology, Medical Faculty, University of Thessaly, Papakyriazi 22, TK 41222, Larissa, Greece

3 Laboratory of Clinical Bacteriology, Parasitology and Geographical Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Crete, P.O. Box 1393, TK 71409, Heraklion, Crete, Greece

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BMC Infectious Diseases 2006, 6:48  doi:10.1186/1471-2334-6-48

Published: 16 March 2006

Abstract

Background

A long-term active surveillance of Q fever was conducted in Cyprus organized in two phases.

Methods

Following serological tests and identification of seropositive humans and animals for C. burnetii in two villages (VIL1 and VIL2), all seronegative individuals were followed up for one year on a monthly basis by trained physicians to detect possible seroconversion for Q fever. In the second phase of the study, active surveillance for one year was conducted in the entire Cyprus. Physicians were following specific case definition criteria for Q fever. Standardized questionnaires, a geographical information system on a regional level, Immunofluorescence Assay (IFA) examinations and shell vial technique were used.

Results

Eighty-one seronegative humans and 239 seronegative animals from both villages participated in the first phase surveillance period of Q fever. Despite the small number of confirmed clinical cases (2 humans and 1 goat), a significant percentage of new seropositives for C. burnetii (44.4% of human participants and 13.8% of animals) was detected at the end of the year. During the second phase of surveillance, 82 humans, 100 goats, and 76 sheep were considered suspected cases of Q fever. However, only 9 human, 8 goat, and 4 sheep cases were serologically confirmed, while C. burnetii was isolated from three human and two animal samples. The human incidence rate was estimated at 1.2 per 100,000 population per year.

Conclusion

A small number of confirmed clinical cases of Q fever were observed despite the high seroprevalence for C. burnetii in human and animal population of Cyprus. Most of the cases in the local population of Cyprus appear to be subclinical. Moreover further studies should investigate the role of ticks in the epidemiology of Q fever and their relation to human seropositivity.