Q Fever

  • Q Fever was first recognised in Australia during the 1930's when workers at a Brisbane meat processor became ill with a fever. As the cause of the illness was unknown, the workers were diagnosed with 'Query' fever. This was eventually abbreviated to Q Fever.

  • Q Fever is a disease that can be spread to humans mainly from cattle, sheep and goats (ruminant animals) and is caused by an organism called Coxialla Burnetii.

  • C. Burnetii is spread in the urine, faeces and milk, but birth fluids, the foetus and the placenta are the most dangerous sources.

  • When infected fluids dry out, the organism can remain alive in the dust for years.

  • People can become infected by being splashed with infected fluids, or by breathing in infected dust.

  • When infected, some people experience no signs, while others just feel a little 'off colour' for a few days. Most people, however, feel like they have a bad case of the flu, with fever and sweating, nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea for 7 to 10 days. For most people, these signs pass and there are no more problems.

  • Chronic Q Fever is rare but can result in inflammation of the heart, lungs and liver. It can also develop into Q Fever Fatigue Syndrome.

  • It is very rare for anybody to die of Q Fever, although some people may get other problems months or years after the first signs of disease have passed. These take the form of extreme tiredness and weakness, even after minor exercise, muscle pains, headaches, fever and depression.

  • This form of the disease, Post Q Fever Fatigue Syndrome, often lasts for years, and make work, and many other aspects of normal life, impossible.

  • While the early stages of this disease can be very unpleasant, preventing this long lasting illness is the main aim of the Q Fever vaccination.


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