Coxiella burnetii, the causative agent of Q fever, can infect a wide range of host species, but limited information exists on the occurrence and implications of infection in wild species. This study describes a natural infection in a population of dorcas gazelles (Gazella dorcas) from a zoo. A 9-yr-old male Saharawi dorcas gazelle (Gazella dorcas neglecta) tested positive on enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) and fecal polymerase chain reaction (PCR). Despite treatment with oxytetracycline, the animal did not clear the infection after 6 mo, as confirmed by a PCR test on a semen sample. This is the first report of a Saharawi dorcas gazelle infection with C. burnetii and the first time that C. burnetii was detected in semen from a zoo animal, suggesting the possibility of venereal transmission in captive wild species. This may have major implications for management of zoo populations, particularly in endangered species.
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