Suspected chlamydial foetal loss highlights the need for standardised on-farm protocols

Aust Vet J. 2022 Dec;100(12):600-604. doi: 10.1111/avj.13206. Epub 2022 Sep 7.


Chlamydia psittaci is a recognised cause of late-term equine foetal loss and poses a zoonotic risk in Australia. However, a management strategy is lacking to protect at-risk humans handling infected aborted material and pregnant mares. This study proposes a protocol for approaching C. psittaci foetal loss after investigating four foetal losses that occurred on a horse stud in the Hunter Valley, Australia in 2021. Swabs from the foetal loss cases (n = 4), close contact mares (n = 59), and foals of the close contact mares (n = 33) were collected and tested for C. psittaci using both isothermal points of care and quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) laboratory-based testing. Genotyping was performed utilising C. psittaci multilocus sequence typing and ompA sequencing from C. psittaci positive pooled foetal and placental (n = 3) DNA. Foetal and placental samples from the four foetal loss cases were all positive for C. psittaci with 100% agreement between the isothermal swab testing on the farm and qPCR DNA testing at an external laboratory. Genotyping revealed the clonal and identical sequence type 24 (ST24) C. psittaci strains in all samples. C. psittaci was not detected in close contact with mares or their foals. There was no statistically significant difference in foal survival between the close contact mare groups that did and did not receive antimicrobial intervention (P > 0.05). The proposed protocol is intended to raise awareness and begin a discussion for guidelines around handling of chlamydial foetal loss cases in late pregnant mares which pose a zoonotic threat to farm workers and veterinarians.

Keywords: Chlamydia psittaci; foetal losspoint of care testingthoroughbred studzoonosis.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Chlamydia*
  • Chlamydophila psittaci* / genetics
  • Farms
  • Female
  • Horse Diseases* / diagnosis
  • Horses
  • Humans
  • Placenta
  • Pregnancy
  • Psittacosis* / veterinary