As per the GOI circular on price capping of Orthopaedic Knee implant by NPPA(National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority), new prices of knee implants have been implemented effective 16th August 2017. For details on knee implant pricing across our hospitals. CLICK HERE | As per GOI’s circular dated 02nd April 2018 on price-capping of stents by NPPA(National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority), new prices of coronary stents are revised with effect from 01st April, 2018. For details on stent pricing.CLICK HERE
Request an Appointment

Q fever

Q fever is an infection caused by the bacterium Coxiella burnetii. Q fever is usually a mild disease with flu-like symptoms. Many people have no symptoms at all. In a small percentage of people, the infection can resurface years later. This more deadly form of Q fever can damage your heart, liver, brain and lungs.

Q fever is transmitted to humans by animals, most commonly sheep, goats and cattle. When you inhale barnyard dust particles contaminated by infected animals, you may become infected. High-risk occupations include farming, veterinary medicine and animal research.

Mild cases of Q fever clear up quickly with antibiotic treatment. But if Q fever recurs, you may need to take antibiotics for at least 18 months.

Symptoms Causes Risk factors Complications Prevention

Many people infected with Q fever never show symptoms. If you do have symptoms, you'll probably notice them between three and 30 days after exposure to the bacteria. Signs and symptoms may include:

  • High fever, up to 105 F (41 C)
  • Severe headache
  • Fatigue
  • Cough
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Sensitivity to light

Q fever is caused by the bacterium Coxiella burnetii, commonly found in sheep, goats and cattle. The bacterium can also infect pets, including cats, dogs and rabbits.

These animals transmit the bacteria through their urine, feces, milk and birthing products — such as the placenta and amniotic fluid. When these substances dry, the bacteria in them become part of the barnyard dust that floats in the air. The infection is usually transmitted to humans through their lungs, when they inhale contaminated barnyard dust.

Certain factors can increase your risk of being infected with Q fever bacteria, including:

  • Occupation. Certain occupations place you at higher risk because you're exposed to animals and animal products as part of your job. At-risk occupations include veterinary medicine, meat processing, livestock farming and animal research.
  • Location. Simply being near a farm or farming facility may put you at higher risk of Q fever, because the bacteria can travel long distances, accompanying dust particles in the air.
  • Your sex. Men are more likely to develop symptomatic acute Q fever.
  • Time of year. Q fever can occur at any time of the year, but the number of infections usually peaks in April and May in the U.S.

Risks for chronic Q fever

The risk of eventually developing the more deadly form of Q fever is increased in people who have:

  • Heart valve disease
  • Blood vessel abnormalities
  • Weakened immune systems
  • A type of kidney disease known as chronic renal insufficiency

A Q fever recurrence can affect your heart, liver, lungs and brain, giving rise to serious complications, such as:

  • Endocarditis. An inflammation of the membrane inside your heart, endocarditis can severely damage your heart valves. Endocarditis is the most deadly of Q fever's complications.
  • Lung issues. Some people who have Q fever develop pneumonia. This can lead to acute respiratory distress, a medical emergency in which you're not getting enough oxygen.
  • Pregnancy problems. Chronic Q fever increases the risk of miscarriage, low birth weight, premature birth and stillbirth.
  • Liver damage. Some people who have Q fever develop hepatitis, an inflammation of the liver that interferes with its function.
  • Meningitis. Q fever also can cause meningitis, an inflammation of the membrane surrounding your brain and spinal cord.

A Q fever vaccine is available in the United States. A different vaccine that originated in Australia has been studied more thoroughly, but it's not available in the U.S. You may want to consider vaccination if you're at high risk of developing Q fever complications and you work in an environment that may expose you to the disease.

Whether you're at high risk of Q fever or not, it's important to use only pasteurized milk and pasteurized milk products. Pasteurization is a process that kills bacteria.

© 1998-2015 Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research (MFMER). All rights reserved. Terms of use