Abstract

Persons with Q fever usually present with severe retrobulbar headache, a fever to 104°F or higher with shaking chills, general malaise, myalgia, chest pain, and sometimes pneumonia and hepatitis. Cattle, sheep, goats, and ticks are the primary reservoirs of the etiologic agent, Coxiella burnetii. Humans are usually infected by inhaling infectious aerosols. Because C. burnetii can survive for long periods in the environment, it poses a continuing health hazard once it is disseminated. Q fever usually occurs sporadically, but large outbreaks are frequently observed throughout the world, particularly among abattoir workers and personnel working in research centers. Q fever endocarditis follows a chronic course and is frequently fatal. Tests for antibodies to C. burnetii are required for confirmation of the diagnosis. Tetracyclines remain the mainstay of treatment for acute Q fever, and tetracyclines in combination with other antibiotics have been advocated for patients with Q fever endocarditis. Vaccines for Q fever have been proven effective in clinical trials.

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