Sciensano & Q fever

Last updated on 22-2-2023 by Charlien Hupko

Sciensano hosts the National Reference Laboratory (NRL) for the animal aspect of Q fever. In conjunction with the Institute of Tropical Medicine, it is also a National Reference Center (NRC) for the confirmation diagnosis of Q fever in human patients. We are active in 3 main areas:

Diagnosis | identifying the bacterium for the diagnosis and epidemiology of the disease

Our laboratory performs the serological diagnosis of Q fever in animals using ELISA tests. We also perform real-time PCR direct-diagnostic tests for animals and humans to detect the bacterium. On positive samples with a sufficient quantity of germs present, we perform molecular typing tests that allow us to follow the epidemiology of the disease.

Research | understanding the biology of the bacterium

For coxiella burnetii, a bacterium that is difficult to grow, our research focuses on implementing easy culture methods to isolate the bacterium from clinical samples. We are thus involved in the genetics of the bacterium in order to describe and understand the variants present in nature and to evaluate a link with the host (whether human or animal). We also develop models of infection and conduct research into immunization.

Expertise | ensuring our role as a NRL in the diagnosis and control of this disease

Controlling the diagnosis of Q fever allows us to support programmes to control the disease in animals to minimise the risk of human contamination.  This expertise is also used in the framework of collaborations with other European countries where the prevalence of this disease in animals is less known. Our expertise also leads us to certify serological reagents for diagnosis in animals.

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