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Q Fever

more about Q Fever

Early and late Q fever

  • An infection of the lungs (Pneumonia) and the liver (hepatitis)
  • Symptoms of Q Fever can appear suddenly (acute) or persist for many years (chronic) with cycles of remission (free of symptoms) and relapse (symptoms appear).
  • When Q Fever becomes chronic, it can cause damage to body parts such as the aortic valve of the heart (i.e. endocarditis).

  • Often develop 2-4 weeks after exposure
  • Sudden shaking chills
  • High fever
  • Malaise
  • Headache
  • Sweating
  • Loss of appetite
  • Dry cough
  • Chest pain on breathing (Pleurisy)
  • Sore throat
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal pain
  • Jaundice (a yellowish tinge) to the skin and icterus (a yellowish type to the whites of the eyes) is seen with hepatitis due to C. burnetii
  • Usually resolves in 2-14 days
  • May last longer in elderly and in the chronic (late) form
  • Meningitis (infection of the membranes covering the brain) rarely occurs

  • Infection caused by an organism from the Rickettsial family known as Coxiella burnetii, which lives in cats, dogs, birds, goats, sheep, ticks, cattle, and other domestic and wild animals
  • Exposure to contaminated feces, blood, urine, birth products (inhaling dust and droplets containing the Coxiella, or direct skin contact with the animal product)
  • Ingestion of contaminated animal products such as milk or meat
  • Direct person-to-person spread has not been seen.

  • Occupational history is important.
  • Medical exam will reveal:
    1. Fever
    2. Enlarged, tender liver and spleen may be felt in the upper part of the abdomen
    3. Abnormal lung sounds such as a friction rub (from irritation of the sac covering the lungs)
    4. Abnormal heart sounds may be present if the valves are involved.
    5. Small and multiple areas of bleeding under the skin (purpuric rash) may be seen with the valve infections.
  • Tests:
    1. Chest X-Ray in half the cases will show the lung involvement (Pneumonia).
    2. Blood test is available for diagnosing Q Fever
    3. Blood samples may show elevation of liver enzymes.
    4. ELISA test is a measurement of blood Proteins known as IgG that may help in diagnosing chronic cases.
    5. Liver Ultrasound (using sound) may show liver enlargement or characteristic lesions known as granulomas (coin like areas).
    6. An Echocardiogram (using sound) may show the C. burnetii colonies on the valves (vegetations).

  • Farm workers
  • Veterinarians
  • Laboratory workers
  • Slaughter houses
  • Unpasteurized milk (milk that has not been heat-treated)
  • Exposure to contaminated bedding where the animal was lying or sleeping
  • Has been documented in donated blood and bone marrow

  • Rest
  • Fluids
  • Tylenol for fever
  • Cough syrup
  • Multiple vitamins, especially those containing anti-oxidants (vitamin C).
  • Antibiotics such as tetracycline or ciprofloxacin given 8-12 days after exposure for 10-14 days of treatment are most effective.
  • A vaccine is available for high-risk individuals but may not be available to everyone.

  • Contact your doctor as soon as exposure occurs or symptoms appear.

  • Other infections:
    1. Leptospirosis
    2. Brucellosis
    3. Endocarditis due to other causes.
    4. Hepatitis due to other causes.
    5. Pneumonia due to mycoplasma infection.

more about Q Fever

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