Q Fever

1 What is Q Fever?

An infection caused by the bacterium Coxiella burnetii is called Q fever which is usually a mild disease with flu-like symptoms.

In some people the infection can surface after years and some people have no symptoms, and the more deadly form of Q fever can damage your lungs, brain, liver and heart.

Animals such as cattle, goats and sheep transmit this Q fever to people.

You may become infected when you inhaled barnyard dust particles that is contaminated by the infected animals or when you have a high-risk occupation such as veterinary medicine and farming.

Antibiotic is the treatment for this.

2 Symptoms

Possible signs and symptoms of Q fever that you may notice between three to 30 days include:

3 Causes

Coxiella burnetii is the cause of Q fever that can be found in goats or cattle and it can also infect cats, dogs and rabbits.

The bacteria are transmitted through:

  • feces,
  • urine,
  • birthing products
  • and milk.

The bacteria become part of the barnyard dust that floats in the air after it became dry. It will get to your lungs if you inhale the contaminated dust.

4 Making a Diagnosis

Consult your doctor if you have the symptoms of Q fever and he may refer you to an infectious disease specialist to receive a diagnosis.

Write down the symptoms that you are having and the medications and vitamins that you are taking.

Some of the questions that you can ask your doctor include:

  • What is causing my symptoms?
  • What kind of tests do I need?
  • What treatments are available?
  • What are the possible side effects?

Your doctor will also ask you questions such as:

  • When did you first have the symptoms?
  • Is it occasional or continuous?
  • Have you ever had heart problems before?
  • Have you ever been exposed to barnyard environments recently?
  • Are you pregnant?
  • Have you recently traveled abroad?
  • Do you live near a farming area?

Some of the tests that he may conduct include:

  • blood tests – to check for the bacteria and to check if there is liver damage;
  • chest X-ray – to check your lungs;
  • echocardiography – to check if you have heart valve problems.

5 Treatment

The antibiotic Doxycycline is the treatment for Q fever.

The treatment will depend if you have acute or chronic Q fever.

For acute, treatment may only last up to three weeks and for chronic Q fever, you must take a combination of antibiotics for at least 18 months and you will need follow up tests to ensure that the Q fever will never come back.

You may need surgery to replace the heart valve that was damaged if you have Q fever endocarditis.

6 Prevention

Prevention is by Q fever vaccine that is available in the United States and a different vaccine in Australia.

If you think you are at risk of having Q fever, you may want to vaccinated yourself.

Pasteurization is the process that kills the bacteria.

It is important to use only pasteurized milk and pasteurized milk products whether you are at high risk of Q fever or not.

7 Alternative and Homeopathic Remedies

There are no homeopathic remedies for Q fever.

8 Lifestyle and Coping

Lifestyle modifications are needed in order to prevent Q fever.

The immunization that you may need are decided by your HALO:

  • H – Health – some factors or health conditions will make you vulnerable to vaccine preventable diseases,
  • A – Age – you may need prevention from different vaccine-preventable diseases at different ages,
  • L – Lifestyle – some of your lifestyle choices can have an impact on your immunization needs,
  • O – Occupation – you may need more immunizations if you are working in an environment that exposes you to vaccine-preventable diseases.

9 Risks and Complications

There are several risks and complications associated with Q fever.

The risk factors of you developing Q fever include:

  • occupation – such as meat processing, veterinary medicine, animal research and livestock farming because you are exposed to animals and animal products,
  • location – if you live near a farm because the bacteria can travel through dust particles in the air,
  • sex – most common in men,
  • time of year – the peak season for Q fever is on April to May in the United States.

The risk factors of having a deadly form of Q fever is for people who:

  • have valve disease; blood vessel abnormalities,
  • if you have chronic renal insufficiency,
  • weakened immune system.

Q fever can affect your:

  • lungs,
  • heart,
  • brain,
  • liver.

It may have complications such as:

  • endocarditis – this is the most deadly of all Q fever complications which is the inflammation of the membrane inside your heart,
  • lung issues – some develop pneumonia leading to acute respiratory distress,
  • pregnancy problems – miscarriage, premature birth, low birth weight and stillbirth,
  • liver damage – some develop an inflammation of the liver which is called hepatitis,
  • meningitis – this is the inflammation of the membrane that is surrounding your spinal cord and brain.

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