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Q fever:see rickettsiarickettsia
, any of a group of very small microorganisms, many disease-causing, that live in vertebrates and are transmitted by bloodsucking parasitic arthropods such as fleas, lice (see louse), and ticks.
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Australian Q fever (from the first letter of the English query, because the nature of the disease was unknown when it was first described), an acute infectious rickettsial disease occurring with fever, primary pulmonary involvement, and an absence of rash.
Q fever is found all over the world. The causative agent is Coxiella burnettii (after the Australian scientist F. Burnet, who described the organism in 1937). In natural foci, marsupials, rodents, dogs, cattle, and other farm animals that excrete the rickettsiae with urine, feces, and milk serve as the reservoir for the organism. The infection is transmitted by many species of ticks and mites. It is also transmitted from animal to man through milk and other infected food products or by dust when working with infected wool, fur, and straw. Infection is also possible in caring for or slaughtering the diseased animals. The incubation (latent) period lasts from two to five days. The disease has an acute onset, with a sudden elevation of body temperature and chills. Severe headache, general weakness, insomnia, muscular pains, and pulmonary foci of pneumonia are also observed. Recovery follows in 12–15 days. Recurrences are possible.
Q fever is treated with antibiotics. It is prevented by checking for its presence in animals and treating infected herds. Persons working on livestock farms or in slaughterhouses should observe the rules of personal hygiene. Vaccination is also a preventive.
The animals susceptible to Q fever include cattle, dogs, horses, camels, swine, poultry, wild birds, and wild animals. The disease is prevalent in Australia and in certain countries of Europe, Asia, and America. In most cases, its course is asymptomatic and benign.
REFERENCESFedorova, N. I. Epidemiologiia i profilaktika Ku-rikketsioza. Moscow, 1968.
Kasatkina, I. L. Ku-likhoradka. Moscow, 1963.
I. I. ELKIN