Chlamydiae are obligate, intracellular, gram-negative bacteria that are responsible for important diseases in humans, other mammals, and birds. Studies have shown that chlamydiae could be present in wild ruminants, but the serodiagnostic method most commonly used did not allow identification of chlamydial species. We determined the prevalence of antibodies to Chlamydia pecorum, Chlamydia suis, Chlamydia abortus, and Chlamydia psittaci in 271 red deer (Cervus elaphus) of a central Italian population, by using the microimmunofluorescence test that shows antibody response against genus-specific and species-specific antigens. No sera had detectable antibodies to C. pecorum and C. abortus. Antibodies were detected against C. psittaci (9.6%) and C. suis (3.3%). Antibody response could be related to contact of the red deer with birds and wild boars (Sus scrofa), respectively, and confirm an extended host range of individual Chlamydia species. In view of the potential zoonotic risk related to exposition of C. psittaci, our findings suggest surveillance of wild ruminants as potential reservoirs for chlamydiae.

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