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Q fever is a bacterial infection caused by Coxiella burnetii.[1] Symptoms typically begin 2 to 4 weeks after exposure and include fever and flu-like symptoms with aching muscles and headache.[2] Treatment is with antibiotics.[3]


It typically results in flu-like symptoms: including sudden onset of fever, malaise, sweats, headache, muscle pain, joint pain, upper respiratory problems, chills, confusion, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.[4]


It is due to the bacterium Coxiella burnetii. Risks include contact with dogs, cats, cattle, sheep and goats, including with these animals milk, urine, or feces.[5][6][7]


Diagnosis is usually based on serology[8][9] rather than looking for the organism itself. Serology in chronic infections shows high levels of the antibody against the virulent form of the bacterium. Molecular detection of bacterial DNA is increasingly used.[10]

Differential diagnosis

In terms of the differential diagnosis for Q fever we find the following: pneumonia, influenza, brucellosis, leptospirosis, meningitis, viral hepatitis, dengue fever, malaria, and other rickettsial infections[11]


Commonly used antibiotics include doxycycline, tetracycline, chloramphenicol, ciprofloxacin, ofloxacin, and hydroxychloroquine. Chronic Q fever is more difficult to treat and can require up to four years of doxycycline with quinolones or doxycycline with hydroxychloroquine.[12]


In 2019, more than a thousand cases were reported in Europe, with 90 percent confirmed. In the United States 178 acute cases and 34 chronic cases were reported.[13][14]


The pathogen of Q fever was discovered in 1937, when Frank Macfarlane Burnet and Mavis Freeman isolated the bacterium.[15]


  1. "Epidemiology and Statistics | Q Fever | CDC". 2019-09-16. Archived from the original on 2011-05-28. Retrieved 2020-05-27.
  2. Barlow, Gavin; Irving, William L.; Moss, Peter J. (2020). "20. Infectious disease". In Feather, Adam; Randall, David; Waterhouse, Mona (eds.). Kumar and Clark's Clinical Medicine (10th ed.). Elsevier. pp. 548–549. ISBN 978-0-7020-7870-5. Archived from the original on 2023-01-15. Retrieved 2023-01-14.
  3. "Treatment of Q fever | CDC". Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 15 January 2019. Archived from the original on 22 September 2022. Retrieved 24 September 2022.
  4. Anderson, Alicia; McQuiston, Jennifer (2011). "Q Fever". In Brunette, Gary W.; et al. (eds.). CDC Health Information for International Travel: The Yellow Book. Oxford University Press. p. 270. ISBN 978-0-19-976901-8.
  5. "Q fever". NORD (National Organization for Rare Disorders). Archived from the original on 29 April 2021. Retrieved 2 December 2021.
  6. Beare PA, Samuel JE, Howe D, Virtaneva K, Porcella SF, Heinzen RA (April 2006). "Genetic diversity of the Q Fever agent, Coxiella burnetii, assessed by microarray-based whole-genome comparisons". J. Bacteriol. 188 (7): 2309–2324. doi:10.1128/JB.188.7.2309-2324.2006. PMC 1428397. PMID 16547017.
  7. "Q fever | Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center (GARD) – an NCATS Program". Archived from the original on 2016-12-31. Retrieved 2018-04-17.
  8. Maurin M, Raoult D (October 1999). "Q fever". Clin. Microbiol. Rev. 12 (4): 518–53. doi:10.1128/CMR.12.4.518. PMC 88923. PMID 10515901.
  9. Scola BL (October 2002). "Current laboratory diagnosis of Q Fever". Semin Pediatr Infect Dis. 13 (4): 257–262. doi:10.1053/spid.2002.127199. PMID 12491231.
  10. Omsland A, Cockrell DC, Howe D, Fischer ER, Virtaneva K, Sturdevant DE, Porcella SF, Heinzen RA (March 17, 2009). "Host cell-free growth of the Q fever bacterium Coxiella burnetii". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA. 106 (11): 4430–4. Bibcode:2009PNAS..106.4430O. doi:10.1073/pnas.0812074106. PMC 2657411. PMID 19246385.
  11. Disorders, National Organization for Rare (2003). NORD Guide to Rare Disorders. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins. p. 293. ISBN 978-0-7817-3063-1.
  12. "Treatment of Q fever | CDC". Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 15 January 2019. Archived from the original on 22 September 2022. Retrieved 24 September 2022.
  13. "Q fever" (PDF). ECDC. Retrieved 17 May 2024.
  14. "Epidemiology and Statistics". Q Fever. 14 May 2024. Retrieved 17 May 2024.
  15. Burnet, F. M.; Freeman, M. (1 July 1983). "Experimental Studies on the Virus of 'Q' Fever". Clinical Infectious Diseases. 5 (4): 800–808. doi:10.1093/clinids/5.4.800. PMID 6194551.