Combating Infection: Is it flu—or Q fever?

January 2011 
Volume 41  Number 1
Pages 63 - 64
  PDF Version Available!

CAUSED BY THE bacterium Coxiella burnetii, Q fever is an infection that can damage the lungs, liver, heart, and other vital organs. Cattle, sheep, and goats are the primary carriers of C. burnetii, which is shed in their birth products, feces, urine, and milk.1 Humans usually become infected by inhaling barnyard dust.2 Less commonly, someone becomes infected after drinking large amounts of unpasteurized milk or being bitten by an infected wood tick.3Farmers, sheep and dairy workers, and veterinarians are at highest risk for contracting Q fever.1 However, Q fever is being reported in U.S. military personnel and civilian contractors deployed to Iraq.4Q fever became a reportable disease in the United States in 1999, when the annual incidence was 21 cases/year. From 2000 to 2004, the incidence rose to 51 cases. Because of increasing reports in military personnel and an ongoing outbreak in the Netherlands, the CDC issued a health advisory in May 2010 warning of the potential for Q fever among

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