Q fever

An uncommon illness causing symptoms similar to influenza. Q fever occurs throughout the world. It is caused by the rickettsia, and may be contracted by inhaling dust contaminated with faeces, urine, or birth products from infected animals. Rarely, it may be spread by tick bites. Symptoms develop with sudden onset about 20 days after infection, and include a high fever, severe headache, muscle and chest pains, and a cough. A form of pneumonia then occurs. In some cases hepatitis or endocarditis may develop. Less than 1 per cent of cases are fatal. After diagnosis is confirmed by a blood test, treatment is with antibiotic drugs. There is an effective vaccine.


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