Rodents are known to cause massive food losses, but are also implicated as reservoirs for a wide variety of zoonotic pathogens. This review discusses the contribution of rodents in the spread and transmission of Coxiella burnetii, the causative agent of Q-fever. We found that rodents have been implicated as reservoirs for Q-fever, but their role in pathogen maintenance, geographic spread and transmission still remains to be clarified. As there are indications for a role of rodents in Q-fever epidemiology, including during the 2007–10 outbreak in the Netherlands, the overall lack of knowledge on the role of rodents warrants studies into their contribution in transmission of C. burnetii from the sylvatic cycle to the domestic cycle, in within-herd transmission, in transmission to surrounding farms and in direct transmission to humans. Although the basic sylvatic and domestic cycles of C. burnetii infection can operate independently, they will overlap in many instances as many areas in the world are occupied by both domestic and wild animals. This area of Q-fever ecology is of interest and research should focus on this aspect of Q-fever epidemiology and, in particular, on the role of rodents therein. More studies are needed that elicit the exact role of rodents in epidemiology of C. burnetii to further optimise disease control.
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