Q fever is a bacterial disease/infection caused by the bacteria Coxiella burnetii. The bacteria naturally infect animals like sheep, goats, and cattle. Coxiella burnetii originated in urine, feces, birth products, a.k.a. placenta, amniotic fluid, and milk of infected animals. People get infected by inhaling the dust from infected animals. Usually, Q fever is harmless, but sometimes it can cause a severe problem.
Q fever signs
Q fever doesn’t always come with symptoms. But some people get flu-like symptoms within 2–3 weeks, like:
- High temperature
- Feeling sick
- Muscle ache
- Swollen glands
- Sore throat
Typically, the Q fever lasts for two weeks.
Q fever causes
The bacteria can spread through infected farm animals’ blood, feces, skin, urine, and after birth. So the fever only spreads during inhaling or by touch. You are less likely to develop Q fever from consuming unpasteurized milk. Farmers, vets, abattoirs, and stable hands are at high risk of developing the fever since they all work closely with farm animals.
Q fever preventions
- Wash your hands more frequently
- Immediately cover clean cuts or grazes with a plaster or dressing
- Wear protective clothing near cattle
- Make sure to clean the animal after birth
- Don’t help animals with the pregnancy if you are pregnant.
- Don’t touch anything that has been near animal blood, feces, or urine.
- Don’t consume your food near cattle areas.
- Don’t drink unpasteurized milk.
Q fever treatments
A doctor will analyze Q fever with a blood test to check if you have been infected. If you are pregnant and have a fever, a doctor may suggest more tests to check the baby in the womb.
Reviewed by – Dr. Priyanka, MBBS MD Microbiology
Page last reviewed: 23 JUNE 2022