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Q Fever: Background Information for Clinicians

  • Q fever is a zoonotic disease caused by Coxiella burnetii (C. burnetii), a species of bacteria that is distributed worldwide.
  • Cattle, sheep, and goats are common reservoirs of C. burnetii, and the bacteria shed from these animals are responsible for most human infections.
  • In the United States, Q fever outbreaks have resulted mainly from occupational exposure involving veterinarians, workers at meat processing plants, sheep and dairy workers, livestock farmers, and researchers at facilities housing sheep.
  • In 1999, Q fever became a notifiable disease in the United States, but reporting is not required in many other countries.
  • The disease is thought to be under-diagnosed and under-reported so scientists cannot reliably assess how many cases of Q fever have actually occurred worldwide.
  • Page last updated August 25, 2006
  • Page last reviewed September 28, 2007
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