Coxiella burnetii bulk tank milk programme


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Vaccination against C. burnetii, combined with C. burnetii bulk tank milk (BTM) surveillance by PCR, is compulsory in the Netherlands on all dairy sheep and dairy goat farms with more than fifty animals. This unique combination of vaccination and surveillance has resulted in a decrease in the number of human Q fever patients to numbers comparable to the period before 2007.

Why participate

  • In some markets it is compulsory.
  • It may minimize the risk of a zoonotic disease outbreak.
  • It provides almost real time insights into possible shedding of C. burnetii.
  •  Milk processors can prove their product safety to retailers. 

What sampling is involved

  • Monthly BTM samples are submitted to GD. BTM sampling frequency can be tailormade to clients’ demands and wishes.
  • Samples will be investigated by PCR. This test does not interfere with vaccination. 
  • An annual BTM ELISA provides a quantitative impression of herd/flock immunity 

How you get advised

  • GD experts interpret the results and provide advice in a written report.
  • Advice should be based on local legislation. Any necessary measures to eradicate the disease may be voluntary; if this is not possible, measures taken will have to be based on local legislation. Legislation relating to Q fever differs per country and clients are responsible for following the legislation in the country from which the samples originate.
  • Internationally derived C. burnetii BTM PCR positive results must be notified to the Dutch Food and Safety Consumer Authority, irrespective of whether the country in which the sample originated requires notification. There are no consequences for the farmer if the Q fever infection is not notifiable in the country from which the sample originated.  

Our expert


René van den Brom, DVM, PhD, DipECSRHM

René van den Brom was born on February 25th 1977 in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, and grew up in Abcoude, where he visited primary school "Nellestein". In 1989, he started high school at "Hervormd Lyceum Zuid" in Amsterdam, where he passed his VWO-exam. In 1997, he started his study Veterinary Medicine at Utrecht University and obtained his degree in veterinary medicine (DVM) in 2004 with merit. During his study he was for one year (1999-2000) president of the Veterinary Students Association (DSK), and for two years (2001-2002) member of the Faculty board. In 2002, he received the "Intervet award", reached out annually at the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine to a student who excellently contributed to integration among veterinary students.

In 2004, René started as a livestock veterinarian in veterinary practice "Het Westelijk Weidegebied" in Harmelen, which started working together with the veterinary practice of the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Utrecht, in 2009. In 2008, René started working part-time at Royal GD, Deventer, as veterinarian in small ruminant health. Due to the human Q fever outbreak with a suspected relation to dairy goats, a large portfolio of (veterinary) research started with the aim to obtain additional information on Coxiella burnetii infections in small ruminants, in which René participated from the beginning. Since 2010, René works full-time at GD Animal Health, and from that moment on he started writing scientific papers. His external PhD-program started after publication of his first research paper. In 2013, René qualified as specialist in small ruminant health management, and currently is diplomat of the European College of Small Ruminant Health Management (DipECSRHM). In 2015, René received his PhD-degree on his thesis “Veterinary aspects of a Q fever outbreak in the Netherlands between 2005 and 2012”. He was a member of the scientific board for the International Sheep Veterinary Conference in Harrogate (2017). Since 2017, René is a member of the Credentials Committee of the ECSRHM.

In 2020, René became manager of the department for small ruminant, equine, and companion health at Royal GD. Besides, he is working as a veterinary specialist in small ruminant health management with an extra interest in surveillance of small ruminant health and infectious causes of abortion in small ruminants. 

Fields of expertise and publications


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