Q fever is a bacterial infection that is caused by the coxiella burnetii bacteria. This disease further causes flu-like symptoms like a high temperature, muscle pain and headaches.
The infection results from the intake of a spore-like small cell variant, and from contact with the milk, urine, feces, vaginal mucus, or semen of infected animals. Rarely, the disease is also known as tick borne.
The ‘Q’ in Q fever stands for ‘query’. This is because when the infection was first identified, its cause was unknown. The cause of the disease is now understood but the name has remained the same.
Causes of Q fever
Q fever is caused by bacteria known as coxiella burnetii (or c. burnetii). These bacteria generally spread by animals that are infected by the bacteria.
Some of the most commonly affected animals, and that poses the biggest risk to humans, are:
Diagnosis of Q fever
- Domestic pets, such as dogs, cats and guinea pigs
Q fever can be diagnosed using a blood test.
- Blood test: If the c. burnetii bacteria that cause Q fever is present in blood, then immune system (the body’s natural defence system) will produce a type of protein called an antibody to kill them.
Symptoms of Q fever
Incubation period is usually two to three weeks. The most common manifestation is mild flu-like symptoms with:
- Onset of fever
- Profuse perspiration
- Severe headache
- Myalgia (muscle pain)
- Joint pain
- Loss of appetite
- Upper respiratory problems
- Dry cough
- Pleuritic pain
- Gastrointestinal symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. The fever lasts approximately 7 to 14 days.
Treatment of Q fever
Antibiotics can be used for Q fever like doxycycline or tetracycline.
In pregnant women, as doxycycline and ciprofloxacin are contraindicated in pregnancy. The preferred treatment is five weeks of co-trimoxazole.