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Residents urged to get vaccinated against mysterious ‘Q fever’ after rare bacterial disease cases doubled in a year
- Queensland Wide Bay Region residents warned to vaccinate against Q fever
- The bacterial disease is spread by animal particles and survives in dirt and dust
- Q fever can cause a range of symptoms, 20 percent of which are chronic
- People in regional areas should wear a mask when gardening or around animals
A disease spread from animal particles to humans has doubled the usual transmission rate, urging people to vaccinate and wear a mask when mowing.
Queensland Health has encouraged residents of the Wide Bay Region north of Brisbane to get vaccinated against Q fever.
The rare bacterial illness causes fever, chills, ‘drenched’ sweat, severe headaches often most painful behind the eyes, muscle aches, weakness, fatigue and significant weight loss.
Residents of the Wide Bay Region have been warned to vaccinate against Q fever as there are more confirmed cases than ever in the past five years
Authorities have confirmed 11 cases of Q fever this year, double the average transmission over the past five years.
Chris McLoughlin, spokesman for Wide Bay Health and Hospital Service, said the disease is transmitted by a variety of animals, including kangaroos, cattle, sheep and goats.
“People become infected by breathing in droplets of the bacteria or dust that are contaminated with birth fluids, feces or urine from infected animals,” he said. courier post.
Q fever is spread through animal particles, including from cattle, kangaroos and sheep, and can remain active in dirt and dust
It is believed that the disease is spreading at a faster rate as more people move out of major cities.
Victims and butchers are most at risk for infection, but people with pets or who live in areas close to wildlife should also consider vaccination.
Residents are advised to wear a P2 face mask when doing activities that can cause disease particles, such as mowing and gardening.
People living in areas affected by Q fever have been advised to wear P2 face masks during activities that can generate infectious animal particles, such as mowing and gardening
“It can persist in the general environment in dust and soil, leading to infection and disease,” said public health physician Dr Josette Chor.
“Dry and windy conditions can increase the risk of transmission to humans.”
Person-to-person transmission of Q fever is rare, but it is possible that pets can carry the disease.
Q fever can be treated with a course of antibiotics, but up to 20 percent of people may experience chronic symptoms for up to 12 months after infection.
Q FEVER FAST FACTS
WHAT IS Q FEVER?
Q fever is a disease caused by the bacterium Coxiella burnetii.
It is transmitted to humans through cattle, sheep and goats and a range of other domestic and wild animals.
People who have no contact with animals can also become infected.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS?
Many infected people have no or few symptoms.
People who do get sick often have a serious flu-like illness.
Symptoms begin about 2-3 weeks after coming into contact with the bacteria and usually include:
- high fever and chills
- severe ‘soaked’ sweating
- severe headache, often behind the eyes
- muscle and joint pain
- extreme tiredness (fatigue)
Patients may also develop hepatitis (liver inflammation) or pneumonia (lung infection).
Without treatment, symptoms can last for 2-6 weeks.
About 10% of patients with acute Q fever suffer from a chronic fatigue disease that can be very debilitating for years.
HOW IS IT DISTRIBUTED?
People usually become infected by inhaling the Q fever bacteria that is in the air or dust.
Cattle, sheep and goats are the main sources of infection, but a wide variety of animals, including domestic and feral dogs and cats, feral pigs, horses, rabbits, rodents, foxes and Australian native animals can also spread the bacteria to humans. Infected animals often have no symptoms.
The bacteria can be found in the placenta and birth fluids (in very high numbers), urine, faeces, blood or milk of animals infected with or carrying the bacteria.
The bacteria can survive in the soil and dust for years and are spread over several kilometers by the wind.
You can become infected with Q fever by:
- breathing the bacteria in the air or dust
- direct contact with infected animal tissue or fluids on broken skin (e.g., cuts or needlestick injuries when working with infected animals)
- drinking unpasteurized milk from infected cows, sheep and goats.
WHO IS AT RISK?
Workers in the following occupations are at high risk for Q fever:
- slaughterhouse and meat workers
- cattle and dairy farmers and farm workers
- shearing machines, wool graders/sorters, fur and hide processors
- livestock/feedlot workers and transporters of animals, animal products and waste
- veterinarians, veterinary nurses/assistants/students and others who work with veterinary medicines
- wildlife workers working with high-risk animals (including Australian native wildlife)
- employees and students of the agricultural college (working with high-risk animals)
- lab workers (who work with the bacteria or with high-risk veterinary samples)
- animal shooters/hunters
- dog/cat breeders and anyone regularly exposed to animals in labor
- people who regularly mow in areas where there is a lot of livestock or wildlife (for example, municipal staff, golf course staff, or staff at mowing companies in regional and rural areas).
Other people at increased risk for Q fever include:
- relatives of people in high-risk occupations (from contaminated clothing, boots or equipment)
- people living on or near a high-risk industry (e.g. neighboring livestock farms, cattle/sheep/goat farms, meat factories, land fertilized with untreated animal manure)
- visitors to high-risk environments (e.g. farms, slaughterhouses, animal vendors and agricultural shows)
- horticulturists or gardeners in environments where dust, possibly contaminated by animal urine, feces or birth products, is sprayed (e.g., lawn mowing).
HOW IS IT PREVENTED?
- Vaccinating against the disease with Q-VAX
- wash hands and arms thoroughly in soapy water after any contact with animals
- wear a well-fitting P2 mask and gloves and cover wounds with waterproof dressings when handling or disposing of animal products
- wear a well-fitting P2 mask when mowing or gardening in areas where there are livestock or native animals
- Where possible, wash animal urine, feces, blood and other bodily fluids from equipment and surfaces
- remove and wash soiled clothing, overalls, and boots worn during high-risk activities in outdoor washrooms.
Source: NSW Health