Update on Q fever in Australia

Jane Heller

writer

Jane Heller

Associate Professor in Veterinary Epidemiology and Public Health, Charles Stuart University

Charles Caraguel

writer

Charles Caraguel

Senior lecturer, School of Animal and Veterinary Science, University of Adelaide

Simon Firestone

writer

Simon Firestone

Academic, Veterinary Biosciences, University of Melbourne

Ricardo J. Soares Magalhaes

writer

Ricardo J. Soares Magalhaes

Senior Lecturer Population Health & Biosecurity, The University of Queensland,

Dr Nicholas J Clark

writer

Dr Nicholas J Clark

Postdoctoral Fellow in Disease Ecology, The University of Queensland

With several hundred cases diagnosed each year, Australia has one of the highest rates of Q fever worldwide.

Q fever is a bacterial infection which spreads from animals; mainly cattle, sheep and goats. It can present in different ways, but often causes severe flu-like symptoms.

Importantly, the bacteria that cause Q fever favour dry, dusty conditions, and inhalation of contaminated dust is a common route of infection.

There are now fears the ongoing droughts in Queensland and New South Wales may be increasing risk of the disease spreading.

But there are measures those at risk can take to protect themselves, including vaccination.

What is Q fever and who is at risk?

Q fever is an infectious illness caused by the bacterium Coxiella burnetii, one of the most infectious organisms around.

Q fever is zoonotic, meaning it can transmit to people from infected animals. It’s usually acquired through either direct animal contact or contact with contaminated areas where animals have been.

Goats, sheep and cattle are the most commonly reported Q fever hosts, although a range of other animals may be carriers.

Because of this association with livestock, farmers, abattoir workers, shearers, and veterinarians are thought to be at the highest risk of Q fever.

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Jane Heller

writer

Jane Heller

Associate Professor in Veterinary Epidemiology and Public Health, Charles Stuart University

Charles Caraguel

writer

Charles Caraguel

Senior lecturer, School of Animal and Veterinary Science, University of Adelaide

Simon Firestone

writer

Simon Firestone

Academic, Veterinary Biosciences, University of Melbourne

Ricardo J. Soares Magalhaes

writer

Ricardo J. Soares Magalhaes

Senior Lecturer Population Health & Biosecurity, The University of Queensland,

Dr Nicholas J Clark

writer

Dr Nicholas J Clark

Postdoctoral Fellow in Disease Ecology, The University of Queensland

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