Research Article

Abortion due to infection with Chlamydia psittaci in a sheep farmer's wife.

Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1985; 290 doi: (Published 23 February 1985) Cite this as: Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1985;290:592
  1. F W Johnson,
  2. B A Matheson,
  3. H Williams,
  4. A G Laing,
  5. V Jandial,
  6. R Davidson-Lamb,
  7. G J Halliday,
  8. D Hobson,
  9. S Y Wong,
  10. K M Hadley


    A farmer's wife who had helped with lambing aborted spontaneously in March after a short febrile illness in the 28th week of her pregnancy. She developed disseminated intravascular coagulation post partum with acute renal failure and pulmonary oedema. Recovery was complete after two weeks of hospital care. A strain of Chlamydia psittaci, probably of ovine origin, was isolated from the placenta and fetus. The patient's serum showed rising titres of antibody against chlamydia group antigen; the placental and fetal isolates; and a known ovine abortion, but not a known avian, strain of C psittaci. IgG against both ovine abortion and enteric strains of C psittaci was detected, but IgM against only an abortion strain was detected. Histological examination showed pronounced intervillus placentitis with chlamydial inclusions in the trophoblast but no evidence of fetal infection or amnionitis. Laboratory evidence of chlamydial infection was found in an aborting ewe on the farm in January and in remaining sheep and lambs in July. Doctors should recognise the possible risk to pregnant women in rural areas where chlamydial infections in farm animals are widespread.