Q fever is a disease caused by the bacteria Coxiella burnetii which is found worldwide. The bacteria naturally infects some animals, such as goats, sheep and cattle. C. burnetii bacteria are found in the birth products (i.e. placenta, amniotic fluid), urine, feces, and milk of infected animals. People can get infected by breathing in dust particles that has been contaminated by infected animal feces, urine, milk, and birth products. High-risk occupations include farming, veterinary medicine, and animal research.
Q fever is caused by Coxiella burnetii, a kind of bacteria carried by cattle, sheep, and goats. Q fever is likely to start with a high fever. Pneumonia and abnormal liver function also suggest Q fever.
Symptoms of Q Fever may include, fever, chills or sweats, fatigue, headache, muscle aches, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea, chest pain, stomach pain, weight loss, non-productive cough.
Q fever can cause mild or severe symptoms. People who develop severe cases may develop inflammation of the lungs (pneumonia) or liver (hepatitis). Women who are infected during pregnancy may be at risk for miscarriage, stillbirth, pre-term delivery, or low infant birth weight.
A very small percentage of people who become infected with Q fever develop a more serious infection called chronic Q fever. Chronic Q fever is serious and can be fatal if not treated correctly. Infection with chronic Q fever requires months of antibiotic treatment. Chronic Q fever is more likely to occur in people with heart valve disease, blood vessel abnormalities, or who are immunosuppressed. Women infected during pregnancy may also be at risk. People with chronic Q fever usually develop an infection of one or more heart valves (called endocarditis).
The symptoms of Q fever are similar to many other diseases, often making diagnosis difficult. See your healthcare provider if you develop the following symptoms after spending time with or near animals—particularly sheep, goats and cattle—or in areas where these animals may have been.Your healthcare provider may order blood tests to look for Q fever or other diseases. Laboratory testing and reporting of results can take several weeks, so your healthcare provider may start treatment before results are available.
Acute Q fever:
- Most cases of acute Q fever will recover without antibiotic treatment.
- Those that do require treatment can be effectively treated with the antibiotic doxycycline.
Chronic Q fever:
- Chronic Q fever is a serious infection and requires several months of antibiotic treatment.
- Chronic Q fever is treated with a combination of antibiotics including doxycycline and hydroxychloroquine for several months.
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