Q fever : Symptoms and Management

Q fever is a disease caused by infection with Coxiella burnetii, a bacterium that affects humans and other animals. Q fever is usually a mild disease with flu-like symptoms. Many people have no symptoms at all. In a small percentage of people, the infection can resurface years later. This more deadly form of Q fever can damage your heart, liver, brain and lungs.

Q fever is transmitted to humans by animals, most commonly sheep, goats and cattle. When you inhale barnyard dust particles contaminated by infected animals, you may become infected. High-risk occupations include farming, veterinary medicine and animal research.


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
Pleuritic pain
Gastrointestinal symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting anddiarrhea. The fever lasts approximately 7 to 14 days.


Lab tests

Your doctor may want to check your blood for antibodies to the Coxiella burnetii antigen and for evidence of liver damage.

Imaging tests

Chest X-ray. Q fever can cause pneumonia in some people. A chest X-ray can be used to see if your lungs look healthy.

Echocardiography. If chronic Q fever is suspected, your doctor may do an echocardiogram to check for problems with your heart valves.



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


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