Q fever is an illness caused by Coxiella burnetii, which is found in farm animals such as goats, cows, sheep and more. Those infected experience flu-like symptoms.
According to the CDC, Q fever can cause infection in people who experience one of the following:
- Breathing in contaminated dust particles that have been in contact with infected animal birth products, feces, milk or urine.
- Ingesting unpasteurized dairy products from an infected animal.
- Touching an infected animal, though it isn’t required to catch the illness.
Various professions put people at increased risk for infection due to a higher likelihood of exposure to C. burnetii. Veterinarians, dairy farmers/workers, livestock farmers, meat or dairy processing plant workers.
About half of those who become infected with C. burnetii will display symptoms of sickness 2-3 weeks following exposure. Symptoms may be mild or severe, and the illness can develop into chronic Q fever, which can be serious or even deadly. Symptoms of Q fever include:
- Chest pain
- Chills or sweats
- Muscle aches
- Stomach pain
- Unproductive Cough
- Weight loss
Pregnant women who are infected could experience miscarriage, stillbirth or other birth defects.
Though there is not currently a vaccine available for Q fever, there are steps people can take to avoid infection. Reduce risk by:
- Limiting or avoiding any contact with animals, especially those giving birth
- Never consume raw milk products
Please talk to your health care provider if you feel you may have Q fever, or visit the CDC website for more information on Q Fever.