High prevalence of chlamydial (Chlamydophila psittaci) infection in fetal membranes of aborted equine fetuses


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Abstract

Seventy-seven cases of equine abortion from 49 Hungarian farms that occurred between 1998 and 2000 were investigated for the presence of chlamydiae by immunohistochemistry, PCR and/or MZN staining. Evidence of the presence of these bacteria was obtained in 64 cases (83.1%) from 41 (83.7%) different farms. Partial omp A gene sequencing of PCR products revealed that the agent was Chlamydophila psittaci. Based on the findings of microbial diagnosis, pathology and case history, chlamydial infection was considered to be the most likely cause of abortion in at least 11 (14.3%) cases. In the remaining 53 Chlamydophila-positive cases, either other bacterial and viral agents (n = 22 or 28.6%) as well as non-infectious factors (n = 14 or 18.2%) were identified as more probable primary causes of disease, or the role of chlamydiae remained unclear because lesions in fetuses and fetal membranes were absent (n = 17 or 22.1%). When chlamydial antigen was detected in aborted equine placental tissue using immunohistochemistry it was seen only in the chorionic epithelial cells, but not in other parts of the fetal membranes nor in any of the fetal tissues. In conclusion, chlamydial infection of the genital tract should be considered a possible factor in equine reproductive disorders.

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