Chlamydia caviae in swiss and dutch guinea pigs— occurrence and genetic diversity

Ciuria, Silvia; Brouwer, Michael S.M.; de Gier, Marende M.; van Zeeland, Yvonne; Bossers, Alex; Prähauser, Barbara; Schädler, Julia; Hatt, Jean Michel; Heijne, Marloes; Borel, Nicole


Chlamydia (C.) caviae is a known pathogen in guinea pigs, causing conjunctivitis, respiratory infections and abortions. Recently, a C. caviae-induced zoonotic link was identified as the etiol-ogy of severe community-acquired pneumonia in humans. Here, 784 conjunctival and rectal swabs originating from 260 guinea pigs and 110 rabbits from 64 husbandries in Switzerland, as well as 200 composite conjunctival swabs originating from 878 guinea pigs from 37 husbandries in the Netherlands were examined by real-time PCR followed by conventional PCR and sequencing. Chlamydi-aceae were detected in 2.3% (18/784) and 12.5% (25/200) of all Swiss and Dutch samples, respectively. An overall C. caviae occurrence was detected in 2.7% (7/260) and 8.9% (78/878) of all Swiss and Dutch guinea pigs, respectively. OmpA genotyping of 64 C. caviae-positive samples resulted in 33 sequences sharing 100% nucleotide identity with the strains isolated from the zoonotic transmission cases in the Netherlands. However, all ompA sequences of this study were distinct from the C. caviae GPIC reference strain. C. caviae was not detected in rabbits but C. psittaci genotype A was identified in guinea pigs and rabbits, raising concerns about the importance of these animal species as novel zoonotic sources for C. psittaci.