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By | 20/08/2022

What Is Q Fever: Causes, Symptoms, Treatments And Prevention

Photograph Courtesy: PeopleImages/iStock

Practice y’all frequently work with animals? Exercise you alive near a farm or take exposure to livestock? If so, you’re more likely than others to get an infection called Q fever. Q fever is an infection you get from a bacterium,
Coxiella burnetii. People who have contact with animals are at gamble of getting Q fever because it occurs in animals. The symptoms of Q fever, such as headaches, muscle aches, fever, and tiredness, are similar to the flu, and then sometimes, this condition is hard to diagnose. Most cases of Q fever are mild and don’t need treatment, just if your instance is severe, doctors may care for you with antibiotics. If you think yous might have Q fever, read on to larn more about it.

How do yous get Q fever? A bacterium chosen
Coxiella burnetii,
C. burnetii
, causes the condition. It tin can be found in the feces, urine, milk, and nativity products of many animals, including cattle, sheep, and goats. Q fever transmission occurs when you breathe in air that is contaminated with the leaner. If y’all are a farmer, veterinary, or piece of work with animals, you are more than probable to get Q fever. Drinking dairy products that oasis’t undergone pasteurization, a process that kills bacteria, can too get you sick with Q fever.

Q fever is not very contagious. It simply rarely spreads from person to person.

Signs and Symptoms
of Q Fever

If y’all get Q fever, you’ll usually get some of these symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Chills or sweats
  • Tiredness
  • Headaches
  • Musculus aches
  • Nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
  • Breast pain
  • Breadbasket pain
  • Weight loss
  • Cough without phlegm

Q fever symptoms are similar to other conditions similar the influenza. In severe cases, you may become an infection of the lungs, brain, or liver.

How long does Q fever last? Yous unremarkably feel sick two to three weeks subsequently exposure, and the symptoms tin can final two to half-dozen weeks. However, some patients volition develop chronic Q fever, which develops months or years after the initial Q fever infection. You’re more than probable to become chronic Q fever if yous accept eye disease, kidney disease, or a weak immune system.


If you take chronic Q fever, you tin get several complications:

  • Endocarditis: Endocarditis is an infection of the heart that leads to inflammation. This inflammation can damage the heart valves, which command blood flow through the heart. Symptoms of endocarditis include night sweats, tiredness, difficulty breathing, weight loss, and swelling of the limbs.
  • Lung bug: Q fever can infect the lungs and crusade pneumonia. It can also crusade astute respiratory distress, a medical emergency where fluid builds up in the air sacs of the lungs.
  • Pregnancy problems: If you become Q fever while meaning, you may be at increased risk of miscarriage, stillbirth, pre-term delivery, or low infant nascence weight.
  • Liver damage: Sometimes Q fever tin can pb to hepatitis, an inflammation of the liver that prevents it from functioning normally.
  • Meningitis: Q fever can cause meningitis, an inflammation of the lining surrounding the brain and the spinal cord.

of Q Fever

Q fever is difficult to diagnose because it has no specific diagnostic test and can exist mistaken for the flu. Doctors normally diagnose Q fever by asking about your symptoms, determining if you accept frequent contact with animals, running blood tests, and doing imaging tests.

Your md may check your blood for:

  • Elevated white blood jail cell count
  • Antibodies against
    C. burnetii
  • Signs of liver damage

Imaging tests can help with a Q fever diagnosis:

  • Breast X-ray: Q fever tin cause pneumonia, so your doctor may get a chest 10-ray to see if your lungs are infected.
  • Echocardiogram: If your doc thinks you take chronic Q fever, they might order an echocardiogram, or a moving-picture show of the middle, to check for problems with the valves of the heart.


If you work with animals on a regular basis, there are steps yous can take to avert getting Q fever:

  • Wash your hands and artillery thoroughly subsequently you accept contact with animals.
  • Vesture a properly fitted mask when handling animal products or working in an area with livestock.
  • When possible, wash surfaces and equipment contaminated with beast feces, urine, claret, and other animate being body fluids.
  • Remove and wash dirty wearing apparel, coveralls, and boots worn during high-hazard activities, and avert taking these items home. If yous must accept them home, purse and launder them separately from your other clothing.

A vaccine against Q fever has been developed in Australia for people in high-run a risk occupations. Notwithstanding, it is not yet approved for use in the The states.

for Q Fever

Acute Q fever is treated with an antibody called doxycycline twice daily for 2 weeks.

If yous develop chronic Q fever, your doctor volition requite y’all a medication chosen hydroxychloroquine in add-on to doxycycline for at to the lowest degree a year. Your doctor will also follow up with y’all for years afterwards treatment to make sure the infection hasn’t returned. If you lot have endocarditis from Q fever, yous may require surgery to supplant damaged heart valves.

Next Steps

If yous have influenza-like symptoms afterwards exposure to farm animals or consumption of raw milk, talk to your doctor about how you lot’re feeling. You may non feel any symptoms for a few weeks after your exposure, so keep that in mind when telling your doctor about your condition. If you doubtable that you have chronic Q fever, allow your physician know virtually any past infection with Q fever.

Resource Links:

  • “Q Fever” via CDC
  • “Q Fever” via Cleveland Clinic
  • “Q Fever” via Mayo Dispensary
  • “Q Fever Fact Sheet” via NSW
  • “Q Fever Vaccine Development: Current Strategies and Future Considerations’ via Pathogens
  • “Q Fever” via StatPearls