Surveillance and outbreak reports Open Access
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Between 2007 and 2010, the Netherlands experienced one of the largest outbreaks of Q fever. Since asymptomatic Coxiella burnetii infection has been associated with maternal and obstetric complications, evidence about the effectiveness of routine screening during pregnancy in outbreak areas is needed. We performed a clustered randomised controlled trial during the Dutch outbreak, in which 55 midwife centres were randomised to recruit pregnant women for an intervention or control strategy. In both groups a serum sample was taken between 20 and 32 weeks of gestation. In the intervention group (n=536), the samples were analysed immediately by indirect immunofluorescence assay for the presence of IgM and IgG (phase I/II) and treatment was given during pregnancy in case of an acute or chronic infection. In the control group (n=693), sera were frozen for analysis after delivery. In both groups 15% were seropositive. In the intervention group 2.2% of the women were seropositive and had an obstetric complication, compared with 1.4% in the control group (Odds ratio: 1.54 (95% confidence interval 0.60-3.96)). During a large Q fever outbreak, routine C. burnetii screening starting at 20 weeks of gestation was not associated with a relevant reduction in obstetric complications and should therefore not be recommended.


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