Last Updated: 2012-12-18
Also known as Q fever, this is a worldwide, zoonotic disease caused by the gram-negative, obligate, intracellular bacterium Coxiella burnetii.
Disease is acquired through inhalation of pathogen-contaminated dust or aerosols or contact with products of conception, and, less commonly, urine, feces, or milk of infected animals.
The most common reservoirs of the bacteria are cattle, sheep, and goats, but other species of mammals, as well as birds and ticks, have been associated with human infection.
Occupations at high risk are abattoir workers, meat handlers, farmers, veterinarians, and laboratory personnel. In recent years, Q fever cases have also been reported among military personnel stationed in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The disease presents in 2 forms: acute infection (a self-limiting febrile illness with varying degrees of pneumonia and hepatitis) and chronic infection (mainly endocarditis).
Acute infection can be treated with oral antibiotics for 14 to 21 days, but endocarditis and other forms of chronic Q fever require long-term antibiotic therapy.
Electron micrograph of Coxiella burnetii from a liver biopsy
Image provided by NIH Image Library
Epocrates, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Epocrates iPhone Epocrates Android Epocrates Palm Epocrates Free Download
Epocrates Institutional Sales Epocrates Market Research Epocrates CME Epocrates Mobile Resource Centers Epocrates Clinical Content