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European Journal of Microbiology and Immunology
Authors: Raimond Lugert, Uwe Groß, Wycliffe O. Masanta, Gunter Linsel, Astrid Heutelbeck and Andreas E. Zautner

Psittacosis is a zoonotic infectious disease that is caused by Chlamydophila psittaci. To determine the occupational risk of getting the infection, we investigated the seroprevalence of C. psittaci among employees of two German duck farms and two slaughterhouses according to their level of exposure to the pathogen during the years 2010, 2007, and 2004. In summary, we found low seroprevalence (≈ 8%) throughout the study population almost irrespective of the duty of a given worker. Surprisingly, in 2010, the anti-C. psittaci-specific antibody prevalence in the group of slaughterer (38.9%) was significantly increased in comparison to the non-exposed employees (p = 0.00578). This indicates that individuals in the surrounding of slaughterhouses exposed especially to aerosols containing C. psittaci elementary bodies bear a greater occupational risk of getting infected.

Open access
European Journal of Microbiology and Immunology
Authors: Wycliffe Omurwa Masanta, Raimond Lugert, Uwe Groß, Gunter Linsel, Astrid Heutelbeck and Andreas Erich Zautner

Several studies have shown that about 60–100% of farmed ducks are colonized by Campylobacter species. Because of this, a higher risk of campylobacteriosis among duck farm workers can be assumed.

To estimate the risk of Campylobacter infections in duck farm workers, we investigated the prevalence of Campylobacter spp. in ducks of two duck farms and the seroprevalence of anti-Campylobacter antibodies (IgA and IgG) in two cohorts of workers. The first cohort consisted of high-exposed stable workers and slaughterers, which was compared to a second cohort of non-/low-exposed persons. Duck caecal swabs and serum samples were collected in 2004, 2007, and 2010.

The colonization rate in the examined ducks was found to be 80–90%. The seroprevalence of anti-Campylobacter IgA and IgG antibodies among the non-exposed cohort was found to be 0.00% in all 3 years. In contrast, the exposed cohort demonstrated an IgA seroprevalence of 4.17% in 2004, 5.71% in 2007, and 0.00% in 2010 and an IgG seroprevalence of 8.33% in 2004, 0.00% in 2007, and 4.29% in 2010.

In conclusion, in 2004, we observed a significantly higher anti-Campylobacter antibody seroprevalence in the exposed cohort followed by a steady reduction in 2007 and 2010 under occupational health and safety measures.

Open access
European Journal of Microbiology and Immunology
Authors: Matthias F. Emele, Matti Karg, Helmut Hotzel, Linda Graaf-van Bloois, Uwe Groß, Oliver Bader and Andreas E. Zautner

Campylobacter fetus is a causative agent of intestinal illness and, occasionally, severe systemic infections and meningitis. C. fetus currently comprises three subspecies: C. fetus subspecies fetus (Cff), C. fetus subspecies venerealis (Cfv), and C. fetus subspecies testudinum (Cft). Cff and Cfv are primarily associated with mammals whereas Cft is associated with reptiles.

To offer an alternative to laborious sequence-based techniques such as multilocus sequence typing (MLST) and polymerase chain reaction (PCR)-ribotyping for this species, the purpose of the study was to develop a typing scheme based on proteotyping.

In total, 41 representative C. fetus strains were analyzed by intact cell mass spectrometry and compared to MLST results. Biomarkers detected in the mass spectrum of C. fetus subsp. fetus reference strain LMG 6442 (NCTC 10842) as well as corresponding isoforms were associated with the respective amino acid sequences and added to the C. fetus proteotyping scheme.

In combination, the 9 identified biomarkers allow the differentiation of Cft subspecies strains from Cff and Cfv subspecies strains. Biomarkers to distinguish between Cff and Cfv were not found. The results of the study show the potential of proteotyping to differentiate different subspecies, but also the limitations of the method.

Open access

Campylobacter jejuni’s flagellar locomotion is controlled by eleven chemoreceptors. Assessment of the distribution of the relevant chemoreceptor genes in the C. jejuni genomes deposited in the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) database led to the identification of two previously unknown tlp genes and a tlp5 pseudogene. These two chemoreceptor genes share the same locus in the C. jejuni genome with tlp4 and tlp11, but the gene region encoding the periplasmic ligand binding domain differs significantly from other chemoreceptor genes. Hence, they were named tlp12 and tlp13.

Consequently, it was of interest to study their distribution in C. jejuni subpopulations of different clonality, and their cooccurrence with the eleven previously reported chemoreceptor genes. Therefore, the presence of all tlp genes was detected by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) in 292 multilocus sequence typing (MLST)-typed C. jejuni isolates from different hosts.

The findings show interesting trends: Tlp4, tlp11, tlp12, and tlp13 appeared to be mutually exclusive and cooccur in a minor subset of isolates. Tlp4 was found to be present in only 33.56% of all tested isolates and was significantly less often detected in turkey isolates. Tlp11 was tested positive in only 17.8% of the isolates, while tlp12 was detected in 29.5% of all isolates, and tlp13 was found to be present in 38.7%.

Open access
European Journal of Microbiology and Immunology
Authors: Andreas Erich Zautner, Annina Hage, Katja Schneider, Karolin Schlösser, Ortrud Zimmermann, Else Hornecker, Rainer F. Mausberg, Hagen Frickmann, Uwe Groß and Dirk Ziebolz

Abstract

It is well known that dental caries and periodontitis are the consequence of bacterial colonization and biofilm formation on the enamel surface. The continuous presence of bacterial biofilms on the tooth surface results in demineralization of the tooth enamel and induces an inflammatory reaction of the surrounding gums (gingivitis). The retention and survival of microorganisms on toothbrushes pose a threat of recontamination especially for certain patients at risk for systemic infections originating from the oral cavity, e.g., after T-cell depleted bone marrow transplantation. Thus, the effects of different decolonization schemes on bacterial colonization of toothbrushes were analyzed, in order to demonstrate their applicability to reduce the likelihood of (auto-)reinfections.

Toothbrushes were intentionally contaminated with standardized suspensions of Streptococcus mutans or Staphylococcus aureus. Afterwards, the toothbrushes were exposed to rinsing under distilled water, rinsing and drying for 24 h, 0.2% chlorhexidine-based decolonization, or ultraviolet (UV) radiation. The remaining colony forming units were compared with freshly contaminated positive controls. Each experiment was nine-fold repeated. Bi-factorial variance analysis was performed; significance was accepted at P < 0.05.

All tested procedures led to a significant reduction of bacteral colonization irrespective of the toothbrush model, the brush head type, or the acitivity state. Chlorhexidine-based decolonization was shown to be superior to rinsing and slightly superior to rinsing and drying for 24 h, while UV radiation was similarly effective as chlorhexidine. UV radiation was slightly less prone to species-dependent limitations of its decolonizing effects by bristle thickness of toothbrushes than chlorhexidin.

Reduction of bacterial colonization of toothbrushes might reduce the risk of maintaining bacterial infections of the upper respiratory tract. Accordingly, respective procedures are advisable, particularly as they are cheap and easy to perform.

Restricted access
European Journal of Microbiology and Immunology
Authors: Anja Dörschug, Julian Schwanbeck, Andreas Hahn, Anke Hillebrecht, Sabine Blaschke, Uwe Groß, Markus M. Heimesaat, Hagen Frickmann and Andreas E. Zautner

Abstract

Introduction

To efficiently monitor the COVID-19 pandemic for surveillance purposes, reliable serological rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs) are desirable for settings where well-established high-throughput bench-top solutions are not available. Here, we have evaluated such an RDT.

Methods

We have assessed the Xiamen AmonMed Biotechnology COVID-19 IgM/IgG test kit (Colloidal gold) and the EUROIMMUN benchtop assay with serum samples from patients with polymerase chain reaction (PCR)-confirmed COVID-19 disease. Samples from patients with Epstein-Barr-virus (EBV) infection and blood donors were used for specificity testing.

Results

For the colloid gold rapid test and the EUROIMMUN assay, the study indicated overall sensitivity of 15.2% and 67.4%, respectively, while specificity of 99.0% and 97.9% with the blood donor sera, as well as 100% and 96.8% with the EBV-patients, were observed, respectively. An association of the time period between positive PCR results and serum acquisition with serological test positivity could be observed for the immunologlobulin G subclass of the EUROIMMUN assay only.

Conclusions

In spite of acceptable specificity of the assessed RDT, the detected poor sensitivity leaves room for improvement. The test results remain difficult to interpret and therefore the RDT can currently not be recommended for routine diagnostic or surveillance use.

Open access