What is Q Fever and why is it important?
By Dr Olga Ilic
Living in rural/regional Australia puts many at higher risk of Q fever.
Q fever mostly causes an illness resembling a flu. Symptoms may include high fevers, joint and muscle aches, headaches and extreme fatigue and may last many weeks. Sometimes, more severe illness including heart disease, pneumonia, hepatitis and persistent profound fatigue can occur. Often diagnosis is difficult and the costs of health care may be high. Q fever was first described in 1935 in abattoir workers in Brisbane. The Q stands for query as the cause was not initially known. Now we recognise that Q fever is caused by a bacteria called Coxiella burnetti.
People catch Q fever from animals, mostly farm animals such as sheep, cattle and goats. It is possible however to catch Q fever from native animals such as kangaroos and feral or domestic mammals such as cats and dogs. Animals often do not appear unwell. Q fever is caught by inhaling dust contaminated with animal products (urine, faeces, birth products) or by having contact with
contaminated animals, their hide, contaminated straw or drinking raw milk.
Q Fever Vaccine
Australia is the only nation using a vaccine to prevent Q fever but still most people are unaware of the illness or vaccine. Kialla Medical Clinic has Dr Olga Ilic and Dr John Mackellar who are accredited to perform Q fever testing and vaccination. Vaccination involves 2 visits to the doctor. It is imperative that the vaccine is not given to someone who has already had Q fever so the first visit consists of a blood and skin test to check whether you have already had Q fever exposure. At the second visit results are checked and vaccination provided if indicated.
Who is at risk?
Below is a list of people who are considered at high risk and who should strongly consider vaccination:-
- farmers, hobby farmers esp if sheep, cattle and goat farmers
- abattoir workers, including visitors and tradesmen
- meat inspectors
- shearers, wool sorters
- veterinarians and animal handlers
- animal transporters
- professional dog and cat breeders
- horticulturists or gardeners who may come into contact with dust, potentially contaminated by animal milk, urine, faeces or birth products.
Unfortunately many people have never heard of Q fever or that a vaccine exists. The vaccine is not government funded but if vaccination is required for work your employer may contribute to the cost or you may be able to claim it as a tax deductible expense. For many of us Q fever vaccination should be strongly considered.
Accredited Testing and Vaccination
For further information please see us at Kialla Medical Clinic at Riverside Plaza, where single, as well as group, bookings are welcome.