Evidence of co-exposure with Brucella spp, Coxiella burnetii, and Rift Valley fever virus among various species of wildlife in Kenya

Background Co-infection, especially with pathogens of dissimilar genetic makeup, may result in a more devastating impact on the host. Investigations on co-infection with neglected zoonotic pathogens in wildlife are necessary to inform appropriate prevention and control strategies to reduce disease burden in wildlife and the potential transmission of these pathogens between wildlife, livestock and humans. This study assessed co-exposure of various Kenyan wildflife species with Brucella spp, Coxiella burnetii and Rift Valley fever virus (RVFV). Methodology A total of 363 sera from 16 different wildlife species, most of them (92.6%) herbivores, were analysed by Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) for IgG antibodies against Brucella spp, C. burnetii and RVFV. Further, 280 of these were tested by PCR to identify Brucella species. Results Of the 16 wildlife species tested, 15 (93.8%) were seropositive for at least one of the pathogens. Mean seropositivities were 18.9% (95% CI: 15.0–23.3) for RVFV, 13.7% (95% CI: 10.3–17.7) for Brucella spp and 9.1% (95% CI: 6.3–12.5) for C. burnetii. Buffaloes (n = 269) had higher seropositivity for Brucella spp. (17.1%, 95% CI: 13.0–21.7%) and RVFV (23.4%, 95% CI: 18.6–28.6%), while giraffes (n = 36) had the highest seropositivity for C. burnetii (44.4%, 95% CI: 27.9–61.9%). Importantly, 23 of the 93 (24.7%) animals positive for at least one pathogen were co-exposed, with 25.4% (18/71) of the positive buffaloes positive for brucellosis and RVFV. On molecular analysis, Brucella DNA was detected in 46 (19.5%, CI: 14.9–24.7) samples, with 4 (8.6%, 95% CI: 2.2–15.8) being identified as B. melitensis. The Fisher’s Exact test indicated that seropositivity varied significantly within the different animal families, with Brucella (p = 0.013), C. burnetii (p = <0.001) and RVFV (p = 0.007). Location was also significantly associated (p = <0.001) with Brucella spp. and C. burnetii seropositivities. Conclusion Of ~20% of Kenyan wildlife that are seropositive for Brucella spp, C. burnetii and RVFV, almost 25% indicate co-infections with the three pathogens, particularly with Brucella spp and RVFV.