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Q-fever pathogen related to increased somatic cell counts

In two separate studies, an association between PCR-based detection of Coxiella burnetii in milk and chronic subclinical mastitis in lactating dairy cows was identified. In a case-control study, quarter level C. burnetii status determined by real-time quantitative PCR (RT-qPCR) was strongly associated with chronic subclinical mastitis as measured by milk somatic cell counts. In a subsequent cross sectional study, 147 (45%) of 325 lactating cows were positive for C. burnetii by RT-qPCR of composite milk samples. A positive C. burnetii PCR status showed a significant increase of somatic cell count score. This research provides evidence that there may be mammary gland specific manifestations of C. burnetii infections in dairy cattle.


Barlow J, Rauch B, Welcome F, Kim SG, Dubovi E, Schukken Y.  Association between Coxiella burnetii shedding in milk and subclinical mastitis in dairy cattle. Vet Res. 2008 May-Jun;39(3):23. 2008