Chlamydiaceaeare a family of obligate intracellular gram-negative bacteria that can cause disease in animals and humans. Among this group are Chlamydia psittaci and Chlamydia abortus. C. psittaci causes avian chlamydiosis, a.k.a. papegaaienziekte (parrot fever), and occurs in birds such as parrots, pigeons and poultry. Excretion of this pathogen can occur through feces.
In humans, C. psittaci infections can cause flu-like symptoms or pneumonia. Outside the Netherlands, psittacosis is seen as a typical occupational disease for people working with poultry. Another relevant Chlamydia species, C. abortus, can cause abortion in mammals, mainly sheep and goats. Excretion of this pathogen occurs through the afterbirth and the amniotic fluid. Like C. psittaci, C. abortus is a zoonosis that can infect humans, causing flu-like symptoms or resulting in miscarriage.
An effective vaccine is not on the market for any of the Chlamydiaceae species. Currently, treatment with antibiotics is the only effective method to combat an infection. Acquiring insight in the prevalence of Chlamydiaceae in the various animal species would be a first step towards awareness of the problem. This project focuses on Chlamydiaceae in poultry.
To date, little is known about the occurrence of C. psittaci in poultry in the Netherlands. None of the commercially available serological tests can differentiate the various Chlamydia species or the various C. psittaci genotypes. Nevertheless, differential serology is crucial for adequate monitoring of C. psittaci, for prevalence studies, and for source detection after zoonotic infections. The aim of this project is to develop genotype-specific serology for Chlamydiaceae, with focus on C. psittaci and C. abortus, and to apply the developed serology for monitoring of poultry, using sera from the existing monitoring programme for avian influenza (post-exposure detection).