Health A-Z

Q Fever

Clinical Definition

Q fever is an infectious disease caused by Coxiella burnetii, which is a Gram- negative intracellular bacterium. Cattle, sheep and dogs may be reservoirs for the organism. Transmission to humans occurs through contact with excretions from infected animals. Breathing aerosols from contaminated barnyard dust can also lead to infection. Q fever may be either chronic or acute in nature. Clinical presentation often includes flu-like symptoms.

In Our Own Words

Q fever is a worldwide disease caused by the bacteria Coxiella burnetii. In the United States, it is relatively rare, and only 131 cases were reported in 2010. Animals can become infected with the bacteria, but often do not show any symptoms. However, people can become infected if they have contact with the urine, feces or milk of these infected animals.

Animal shedding may also contaminate surrounding soil and dust, in which the bacteria can live for a long time. Breathing in contaminated dust particles is another cause of infection in humans.

Symptoms and Side Effects

  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Chills
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