Page Banner

United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Coxiella burnetii in wild-caught filth flies

item Nelder, Mark
item Lloyd, John
item Loftis, Amanda
item Reeves, Will

Submitted to: Emerging Infectious Diseases
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 1/2/2008
Publication Date: 5/23/2008
Publication URL:
Citation: Nelder, M.P., Lloyd, J.E., Loftis, A.D., Reeves, W.K. 2008. Coxiella burnetii in wild-caught filth flies. Emerging Infectious Diseases. 14(6):1002-4..

Interpretive Summary: Q fever is a bacterial pathogen that can cause abortion or low fertility in domestic animals and can cause serious disease in humans. House flies transmitted Q fever in a laboratory experiment but no samples of flies from the wild had been tested. We tested flies from forests, zoos, ranches, and farms. Of the 307 flies that were tested 5 had the Q fever bacteria on or in them. Our data supports the theory that wild flies might transmit this disease.

Technical Abstract: Coxiella burnetii, the agent of Q fever, is a pathogen of vertebrates. In domestic animals, Q fever can cause abortion and reduced fertility. Infections in humans can be debilitating but are rarely fatal. House flies are vectors of Q fever in the laboratory, but infections in field caught flies have not been demonstrated. We used PCR to test field-collected flies from forests, zoos, ranches, and farms for the presence of C. burnetii. DNA from C. burnetii was detected in 5 of 307 flies including Lucilia coeruleiviridis (Marquart), L. sericata (Meigen), and Stomoxys calcitrans (Linnaeus). Our data supports the laboratory based incrimination of flies as potential vectors of Q fever.

Last Modified: 06/27/2017
Footer Content Back to Top of Page