Chlamydia (C.) psittaci is the causative agent of psittacosis, a zoonotic disease in birds and man. In addition, C. psittaci has been repeatedly found in domestic animals and is, at least in calves, also able to induce respiratory disease. Knowledge about transmission routes in cattle herds is still deficient, and nothing is known about differences in host response after either experimental or natural exposure to C. psittaci. Therefore, our recently developed respiratory infection model was exploited to evaluate (i) the presence of the pathogen in blood, excretions and air, (ii) the possibility of transmission and (iii) clinical symptoms, acute phase and immune response until 5 weeks after exposure. In this prospective study, intrabronchial inoculation of 108 inclusion-forming units of C. psittaci (n = 21 calves) led to reproducible acute respiratory illness (of approximately one week), accompanied by a systemic inflammatory reaction with an innate immune response dominated by neutrophils. Excretion and/or exhalation of the pathogen was sufficient to transmit the infection to naïve sentinel calves (n = 3) co-housed with the infected animals. Sentinel calves developed mild to subclinical infections only. Notably, excretion of the pathogen, predominantly via feces, occurred more frequently in animals naturally exposed to C. psittaci (i.e. sentinels) as compared to experimentally-inoculated calves. The humoral immune response was generally weak, and did not emerge regularly following experimental infection; however, it was largely absent after naturally acquired infection. © 2013 Ostermann et al.
Ostermann, C., Rüttger, A., Schubert, E., Schrödl, W., Sachse, K., & Reinhold, P. (2013). Infection, Disease, and Transmission Dynamics in Calves after Experimental and Natural Challenge with a Bovine Chlamydia psittaci Isolate. PLoS ONE, 8(5). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0064066