Q fever

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Common Questions

  1. What are the symptoms of Q fever?

    Acute Q fever usually presents as an influenza-like illness with fever, severe headache often worst behind the eyes, rigors, drenching sweats, muscle pain and acute weight loss. In addition, acute infection can include pneumonia.

  2. Can I pass Q fever to other people?

    No, this disease is acquired through contact with aerosols from infected animal products rather than human-to-human contact. Human-to-human transmission has been described in labour attendants of mothers suffering Q fever, especially in those who have contact with the placenta.

  3. Is there a vaccine for Q fever?

    A whole cell vaccine (Q-Vax CSL) has been licensed in Australia since 1989. Pre-vaccination screening is essential, and includes skin tests and serology. The vaccine is only given if there is no history of Q fever disease or vaccination, and the blood test and skin test are both negative to avoid adverse reactions in those found to be seropositive due to previous exposure. It is only recommended for abattoir workers and veterinarians.

  4. Can children be affected by Q fever?

    Q fever is usually a disease of adult farmers and abattoir workers. It might be included in the differential diagnosis of febrile illness in children as it has been recorded in children as young as three years of age in Queensland.

  5. What kind of animals can be infected by Q fever bacterium?

    A wide variety of animals can be infected with Coxiella burnetii, including domesticated animals such as cows, goats, sheep, dogs, and cats; non-human primates; wild rodents and small mammals including kangaroos; big game wildlife; and non-mammalian animals, including reptiles, amphibians, birds, fish, and many ticks. Although swine become infected they rarely infect humans. Of these animals, cattle sheep and goat are the most significant source of human infection. Animals shed bacteria in milk, faeces, urine, and especially in birth by-products. The organism is quite persistent in the environment and maybe spread by the dissemination of wind-blown contaminated soil.

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