Biologists track Q-fever in Algonquin Park, Ontario
The team, led by Dr. Albrecht Schulte-Hostedde found evidence of the zoonotic bacterium Coxiella bernetii at a higher than expected level in wildlife in the park. Samples were collected in 2009 and results were recently published in the journal Zoonoses and Public Health.
The bacterium was “detected in six out of seven species of wild rodents tested within the boundaries of Algonquin Park, including red squirrels, flying squirrels and deer mice. It was also found in flying squirrels in the Peterborough area, indicating that the bacteria may be widespread among these animal populations in Ontario.”
According to the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) website, “Human Q fever is primarily an occupational disease of farmers, abattoir workers, veterinarians, and laboratory workers.” as they are at a higher risk of infection due to the increased potential of handling infected animals.
In past occurrences, the bacterium has primarily been identified in domestic animals in Ontario and can cause abortions in infected animals. It has also been found previously in wild animals
Many species of mammals, birds and ticks are reservoirs for the bacterium in nature throughout the world. These animals rarely develop life-threatening disease, but infection sometimes results in abortion and stillbirths.
Although the risk of contracting the disease from wild animals is very low, the prevalence of these bacteria has been found to vary greatly over time and wild animals may be important to monitor the risk of Q-fever for humans and domestic animals.
Laurentian University press release: http://www.laurentian.ca/Laurentian/Home/Departments/Biology/News/ASH_Qfever03July12.htm?Laurentian_Lang=en-CA