Q fever

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Q fever

Q fever, disease caused by Coxiella burnetii, a small, Gram-negative bacterium. The bacterium infects livestock (cattle, goats, and sheep) and other domesticated animals, and is found in the urine, feces, amniotic fluid and other birth products, and milk of infected animals. It is typically transmitted to humans by inhalation of contaminated dust particles or from contaminated materials; Q fever is an occupational hazard among dairy farm and slaughterhouse workers. C. burnetii infection does not produce symptoms in roughly half of all cases involving humans, and most symptomatic cases involve fever, chills, fatigue, and other flulike symptoms, making Q fever difficult to diagnose. Severe cases may lead to inflammation of the lungs (pneumonia) or liver (hepatitis), and in pregnant women the disease may cause miscarriage, premature birth, or other complications. A small number of infected persons develop chronic Q fever, which is serious and can be fatal. Most people with acute Q fever recover without treatment or after treatment with the antibiotic doxycycline. Chronic cases are treated with a combination of antibiotics including doxycycline and hydroxychloroquine, and treatment lasts for several months.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Q Fever


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.


Fedorova, N. I. Epidemiologiia i profilaktika Ku-rikketsioza. Moscow, 1968.
Kasatkina, I. L. Ku-likhoradka. Moscow, 1963.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

Q fever

[′kyü ‚fē·vər]
An acute, febrile infectious disease of humans, characterized by sudden onset and patchy pneumonitis, and caused by a bacterialike organism, Coxiella burneti.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
References in periodicals archive ?
Q-fever infections usually occur in a cluster in one year and then peter out the next.
"Until we establish how they got Q-fever and why there are these on-going symptoms, we won't know how to treat their symptoms."
[An epidemic of Q-fever in a cotton-processing plant (author's translation)].
Ueber eine Q-fever (Queensland fieber)--epidemie in Graubunder.
Comparison of immunofluorescence with enzyme immunoassay for detection of Q-fever. Eur J Clin Microbiol Infect Dis 1996;15:749-52.
Protracted debility and fatigue after acute Q-fever [letter].
Ecology and distribution of Q-fever rickettsiae in Europe with special reference to Germany.
Most patients have an uneventful recovery; however, chronic infections such as Q-fever endocarditis and chronic hepatitis are uncommon but well-documented sequelae (12).
A resume of recent research seeking to define the Q-fever problem.
Sera were sent to England for Q-fever antibody tests, which were not available locally.
Phase-I antigen and immunoglobulin (Ig) M tests were not performed, but the results indicated recent Q-fever infection, so doxycycline (100 mg twice a day) was prescribed.
As a result of dramatic political and economic changes in the beginning of the 19 Q-fever epidemiology in Bulgaria has changed.