This short video features Dr. Bonny Cumming, an Australian vet with a special interest in diseases present in the environment and in animals. Dr. Cumming explores the vital connection between the environment, animals, and humans, emphasising how the Q fever bacteria spreads, and introduces the One Health concept.
Any medical practitioner can provide Q fever advice. The benefit of visiting your regular doctor is that they get to know your medical history, they build up an understanding of your health needs, current problems and whether a treatment is right for you.
Your doctor may discuss your risk of being infected with Q fever and suitable preventative options by asking questions about:
a. Your occupation
b. Where you work and live
c. Your previous and current health conditions
d. What preventative or control measures are currently in place against Q fever
Q fever can have serious and long-lasting consequences.
For more information on Q fever and ways to help protect against Q fever, make an appointment to speak to your doctor.
People at increased risk of contracting Q fever include those in direct contact or in close proximity to infected animals, their products (such as faeces, urine, milk, wool & especially products of conception), and contaminated material (such as dust, aerosols, soil, grass, straw, clothes).
People working with cattle, sheep, goats and their products (main sources of infection). E.g. farmers, abattoir/meat workers, shepherds, animal transporters, stockyard workers, dairy farmers & producers, shearers & sorters, tanning/hide workers, vets & veterinary staff, agricultural staff.
People working with wildlife (e.g. kangaroos), feral or domestic animals (e.g. camels, cats and dogs) and their products. E.g. dog & cat breeders, wildlife & zoo workers, handlers, workers culling & processing kangaroos, vets & veterinary staff.
People who live, work or visit at-risk environments or areas in close proximity to them. E.g. farms, saleyards, livestock transport routes.
People working with Coxiella burnetii or laboratory animals. E.g. laboratory personnel handling veterinary specimens.
Further information is available from your doctor or state work health and safety guidelines if you work in an occupation considered to be at risk.
Chronic Q fever is a serious and long-lasting disease and occurs in up to 5% of acute Q fever patients.3 It results from persistent infection in one or more parts of the body. It may develop months or even years after the initial episode of Q fever, even in patients that did not have any symptoms to start with and may take years to resolve. A common manifestation of chronic Q fever infection is inflammation of the heart (endocarditis), which more commonly develops in people with certain heart problems. However, individuals may also suffer from persistent infections occurring in the liver, bones and other organs.
Some patients with acute Q fever (up to about 15%) will go on to experience a post-Q fever fatigue syndrome, where symptoms continue to persist for more than 12 months after symptoms first appear.1,2 Symptoms associated with post-Q fever fatigue syndrome (extreme tiredness and other symptoms), can last for years and have the potential to be highly incapacitating.
Q fever is mainly spread from animals to humans via inhalation of infected particles in the air.
Other routes of infection include:
direct contact with infected animals
contact with infected animal products such as birth products (placenta), milk, urine, faeces and hides.
contact with contaminated material such as soil, grass, straw and clothes.
Cattle, sheep and goats are the main sources of human infection, but certain native and feral mammals (e.g. kangaroos, bandicoots, rats, horses, camels), as well as domestic animals such as cats and dogs, may also be implicated.
Most infected animals do not show symptoms or get sick. They can shed the bacteria in their urine, faeces (poo), milk, wool and birth products which can subsequently contaminate surrounding material such as soil, dust, grass, straw, clothes, hair. The bacterium is highly infective and resistant, capable of withstanding harsh conditions for long periods of time.
Q fever is an infectious disease spread to humans by animals and caused by the bacterium Coxiella burnetii.
The bacterium is transmitted to humans by direct and indirect contact with infected animals, animal products or contaminated material. It is mainly spread from animals to humans via inhalation of infected particles in the air.
Coxiella burnetii can infect both wild and domestic animals, and their ticks. Cattle, sheep and goats are the main sources of human infection, but certain wildlife (e.g. kangaroos), feral and domestic animals (e.g. camels, cats and dogs), may also be implicated.
The illness in humans is usually flu-like, but may sometimes have serious and long-lasting consequences.
In Australia, any case of Q fever needs to be reported to health authorities.