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All You Need To Know About Q Fever

All You Need to Know about Q fever
Atefa Noorain
Atefa Noorain
August04/ 2016

Q fever generally called as query fever caused by bacterium Coxiella burnetti. The causative agent of Q fever is commonly found in cattle, sheep and goats all around the world. The infection can be transferred to humans when they inhale the barnyard dust particles contaminated with Coxiella burnetii. Q fever patients show similar symptoms to flu. People with a weak immune system are more prone to Q fever infection. In severe conditions Q fever affects other organs like heart, brain, liver and lungs.


Coxiella burnetii is the causative organism responsible for Q fever. Animals act as carrier for the infectious agents. Animals transmit the bacteria through the urine, faeces, milk and other fluids. Animal excreta carry this organism even in dry condition and thus contaminate the air. When the contaminated air is inhaled by a healthy individual he gets infected with the organism.

Drinking unpasteurized milk can cause Q fever. Infected person cannot transfer the infection to another person. People who are at higher risk of infection include:

  • Farmers
  • Veterinarians
  • People who live in close vicinity of the farm.
  • People who work in research laboratories associated with the organism.
  • People who work in dairy industries.
  • People who work in meat processing units.


Symptoms do not appear generally in people infected with Coxiella burnetii. In few cases the symptoms appear between 3-30 days after exposure to bacteria. The common symptoms include:

  • High fever
  • Severe headache
  • Fatigue
  • Diarrhoea
  • Nausea
  • Cough
  • Light sensitivity


Q fever can lead to many complications that can affect the heart, liver, lungs and brain.

  • Endocarditis

Endocarditis leads to severe damage to the heart valves. Endocarditis along with Q-fever can leads to life-threatening conditions and in most cases leads to death of the individual.

  • Lung disorder

Pneumonia is a common condition seen in most of the patients suffering with Q fever. In few cases respiratory support is required by the patients suffering with Q-fever

  • Pregnancy problems

Pregnant women need to be careful if they are living near the cattle field. If they get infected with Coxiella burnetii, there are high chances of miscarriage, low birth weight and premature or still birth.

  • Liver damage

Patients suffering with Q fever develop hepatitis in few cases. Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver that disturbs the liver functions.

  • Meningitis

Meningitis is the inflammation of brain and spinal cord membrane. Meningitis is caused by microbial infections. Q fever can also lead to meningitis.


Q-fever can be prevented by following these basic tips:

  • If you are living near the cattle field, taken the vaccination to prevent the infection.
  • Use disinfectant to clean the exposed area.
  • Maintain proper hygiene and sanitary condition in the barnyard to prevent spread of infection.
  • Drink pasteurized milk and avoid using unpasteurized milk.
  • If you are taking care of cattle, test animals routinely for infection.
  • Quarantine infected animals
  • Dispose the placenta, birth products and aborted foetuses properly
  • Counsel the people who are at higher risk of infection.

Atefa Noorain
Atefa Noorain

Atefa Noorain, (Microbiologist) former Head of the Department of Life Sciences, Assistant Professor of Microbiology at Sujatha Degree College for Women. She worked as an Associate Research Analyst at Thomson Reuters and an Associate Editor of two research journals. She has presented her research work in 3 International Conferences. She has written articles for national journals and international journals. She had been felicitated as a Young Speaker in the last conference. She has worked on Nanoparticles as a part of her research project and won the Best Scientist of the Day award.

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