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News Article

Pneumonia from pet guinea pigs


Transmission of Chlamydia caviae from guinea pig to human resulted in severe community-acquired pneumonia.

An article in the New England Journal of Medicine describes three unrelated cases of severe pneumonia in Dutch patients following contact with diseased guinea pigs. Investigations carried out by vets, doctors and microbiologists revealed the cause as the bacterium Chlamydia caviae. This bacterium is known as the cause of mild eye infection in guinea pigs, and in more serious cases respiratory infections and abortion.

The three cases, which appeared over a period of approximately 3 years, occurred in persons from different families, in different geographic areas of the Netherlands. All of the patients were in their thirties and otherwise healthy. Two of the patients were admitted to Intensive Care Units as a result of the severity of the infection. All of the patients recovered after treatment with antibiotics.

Once C. caviae had been established as the pathogen that caused the pneumonia in the affected patients, Wageningen Bioveterinary Research was able to show C. caviae in a diseased guinea pig by means of source tracing by the Netherlands Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (NVWA). With assistance from Ghent University, it proved possible to cultivate the bacterium for further molecular research. The genetic characteristics of the strain from the guinea pig corresponded to the DNA of the strain in one patient.

The researchers say that both vets and doctors should be aware of the zoonotic potential of C. caviae.

Read article: Zoonotic Chlamydia caviae Presenting as Community-Acquired Pneumonia by Bart P. Ramakers, Marloes Heijne, Natascha Lie, Thuy-Nga Le, Monique van Vliet, Vivian P.J. Claessen, Paulien J.P. Tolsma, Mauro De Rosa, Hendrik I.J. Roest, Daisy Vanrompay, Edou R. Heddema, Peter Schneeberger and Mirjam H.A. Hermans, published in New England Journal of Medicine (2017) 377:992-994, doi: 10.1056/NEJMc1702983

Article details

  • Date
  • 03 October 2017
  • Source
  • Wageningen Bioveterinary Research
  • Subject(s)
  • Dogs, Cats, and other Companion Animals