12 Symptoms of Q fever

Caused by a rickettsial infection with the Coxiella burnetii bacteria, the disease known as ‘Q Fever’ may cause flu-like symptoms including chills, muscle pain, fever, and fatigue. However, some people with this disease never experience any of these side effects.

The bacteria responsible for this disease naturally infects some livestock including sheep, goats, and cattle. It is passed from mother to child during the birthing process as urine, feces, milk, placenta, and amniotic fluid have all been found to contain Coxiella burnetii. People can become contaminated by breathing in dust contaminated with animal waste. Early side effects of this disease include high fevers, (around 104-105° lasting for up to a week-or-two), confusion, headaches, and myalgia. Thirty-to-fifty percent of patients with symptomatic infections will also develop pneumonia.

Some people, a small percentage averaging five out of 100, develop more serious infections and experience more severe symptoms, including chronic fever, endocarditis (infection of the heart valves), night sweats, fatigue, shortness of breath, weight loss, or swelling of their limbs. Chronic Q fever can be fatal if not treated correctly. Treatment includes antibiotic treatments lasting months. This form of the disease is more likely to occur in people with impaired or weakened immune systems, because of this people are more likely to develop chronic Q fever during pregnancy.

This disease can be prevented entirely by taking precautions in the workplace and at home. Vaccines protecting against this disease are not currently available in the United States. However, chances of contracting the bacteria Coxiella burnetii are deduced by avoiding contact with animals, especially during the birthing process. Animals infected with Coxiella burnetii will appear healthy, so it is not possible to predict which animal is carrying the bacteria without tests. It is of utmost importance no one, especially those pregnant or nursing, consume raw milk or raw milk products of any kind.

1. Fever

Fevers often occur after the infection of the Coxiella burnetii bacteria. Presenting with chills, body aches, loss of appetite, muscle aches, dehydration, and shivers, fevers are one of the earliest signs of this disease brought on by the bodies immune system as it attempts to purge the foreign bacteria. Fevers will present early and can become as high as 104-105 degrees Fahrenheit (40 degrees Celsius). These extremely high temperatures can last up to two weeks. If a fever reaches 103° it is important to seek medical treatment immediately. Excessively high fevers may cause seizures if gone untreated that may lead to brain damage.