Q Fever

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Q fever facts

  • Q fever is a highly infectious disease that can cause serious illness.
  • Q fever is caused by a bacterium called Coxiella burnetii; infected animals transmit Q fever to humans.
  • Q fever can occur in an acute form and a chronic form.
  • Q fever can cause complications of pneumonia, hepatitis, endocarditis, vasculitis, and chronic fatigue.
  • Q fever in pregnant women can result in miscarriage or premature delivery.
  • There is no vaccine for Q fever available in the United States.
  • Antibiotics can successfully treat Q fever.

What is Q fever?

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Q fever is an uncommon infectious disease. Animals transmit the disease to humans (this sort of infectious disease is called a zoonosis). Most often, cattle, goats, and sheep transmit Q fever, but it can also come from cats, dogs, rabbits, and other animals. Rarely, it's possible for Q fever to spread from person to person. In 2010, there were 131 cases of Q fever in the United States reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; however, some people with Q fever have only very mild symptoms and so do not seek medical care. Therefore, the actual number of cases is probably larger. In most people, Q fever causes high fevers, sweating, muscle aches, headaches, cough, chills, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. The disease can cause a chronic infection that can result in endocarditis (inflammation of the valves of the heart). In March, 2013, the CDC published the first set of national guidelines for the diagnosis and treatment of Q fever.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 2/3/2014

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Q Fever & Bioterrorism

What are the biological agents that can be utilized for bioterrorism?

While any germ, bacteria, or virus could potentially be utilized by terrorist, there are a number of biological agents that have been recognized as being more likely to be utilized. The reason for these agents being of concern is based on their availability to terrorists and the ease by which these agents can be disseminated.


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