The most important animal chlamydiosis of zoonotic character is caused by Chlamydia psittaci, which causes respiratory disease in birds and humans. It is a notifiable disease. The economic damage in connection with outbreaks in poultry flocks can be considerable. Although C. psittaci is known to be widespread in many avian species, not all birds actually show symptoms of disease. Present knowledge about factors contributing to the development of clinical disease, including virulence factors of field strains, is rather limited. The main purpose of our research is developing new molecular diagnostic methods for identifying and typing the bacterium as well as studying the bacterium host cell interactions in order to develop innovative prophylactic tools like for instance recombinant protein and DNA vaccines.

At present, our BSL3 laboratory is focusing on Type III secretion in C. psittaci and on the identification of additional virulence factors by use of genomics and proteomics. We are also focusing on C. psittaci vaccine design for poultry and pet birds.

Chlamydia suis is an emerging infection in pigs causing mainly reproductive failure, conjunctivitis, pneumonia or diarrhoea in swine. The main purpose of our research on C. suis is developing new molecular diagnostic methods as well as studying the bacterium host cell interactions in order to develop innovative prophylactic tools, like vaccines.

Chlamydia abortus causes enzootic abortion in sheep. The infection can spread to humans, causing abortion in pregnant women. Our diagnostic laboratory provides tests for the detection and monitoring of C. abortion in ruminants.

Chlamydia trachomatis infections have an enormous impact on human health. Trachoma, an ocular infection caused by certain C. trachomatis serovars, is the major cause of preventable infectious blindness. Other serovars are the most common cause of sexually transmitted infections throughout the world. Genital C. trachomatis infections can lead to infertility in women. Acute C. trachomatis infections can be treated effectively with antibiotics, although, once infection and pathology are established treatment may not prevent complications like infertility. Therefore, treating only symptomatic patients will never control the spread of infection. Asymptomatic individuals can be identified through screening programs, but this approach is likely to be too costly for developing countries. A vaccination program would be much cheaper and have a greater impact on controlling C. trachomatis infections worldwide. We are focusing on vaccine design. In order to develop effective C. trachomatis vaccines, it is important to identify those antigens that elicit a protective immune response and also to develop new and adequate methods and adjuvants for effective vaccine delivery as conventional methods have failed to induce protective immunity.