Prevalence and spatial distribution of Coxiella burnetii seropositivity in northern Australian beef cattle adjusted for diagnostic test uncertainty

C. M. Wood, N. R. Perkins, S. J. Tozer, W. Johnson, T. S. Barnes, M. McGowan, J. S. Gibson, J. Alawneh, S. M. Firestone, S. M. Woldeyohannes

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Q fever is a zoonotic disease caused by infection with Coxiella burnetii transmitted from animals including, but not limited to, cattle, sheep and goats. The infection in cattle is typically sub-clinical with some evidence suggesting associated reproductive loss. There is currently limited data on the true prevalence and distribution of coxiellosis in beef cattle across northern Australia. During this study, 2,012 sera samples from beef cattle managed on commercial farms located in Queensland and the Northern Territory were tested using an indirect immunofluorescent assay (IFA) for serological evidence of IgG antibodies against C. burnetii. Bayesian latent class models were used to estimate the true prevalence, adjusted for diagnostic test sensitivity and specificity and incorporating the hierarchical structure of the cattle within farms and regions. In this study, cattle in the Northern Territory had lower estimated true prevalence than cattle within most regions of Queensland with the exception of south-east Queensland. Results from this study have described the geographic distribution and estimated the true prevalence of antibodies to C. burnetii in a sample of extensively managed beef cattle located across the tropical grazing regions of northern Australia.

Original languageEnglish
Article number105282
Number of pages8
JournalPreventive Veterinary Medicine
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Bayesian latent class model
  • Cattle
  • Coxiella burnetii
  • Northern Australian beef
  • True prevalence

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