Infectious Diseases Bacterial Diseases
The information on the Rare Awareness Rare Education (RARE) Portal is intended for educational purposes only and does not replace professional advice.
Rare diseases typically display a high level of symptom complexity and variability. Individuals diagnosed with the same rare disease may be impacted differently and each person’s experience is unique. Please seek support from qualified healthcare professionals to learn more about the most suitable care and support options for you.
For more information on Q Fever, please refer to the Australian Government Department of Health factsheet on Q Fever.1
There are currently no known organisations in Australia specifically for this rare disease. If you know of any rare disease organisation/s supporting people living with Q Fever in Australia, please let us know via the Contribute page. If you are interested in starting an Australian organisation for people living with Q Fever, please see Engaged, Ethical and Effective: A Guide for Rare Disease Organisation Leaders in Australia.
If you are aware of any additional information that may benefit stakeholders with an interest in this page, or if you notice any broken links or misleading information, please let us know via the Contribute page.
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There may be special considerations for the emergency management of individuals living with Q Fever presenting to emergency departments.
Clinical Care Guidelines
Communicable Diseases Network Australia (CDNA) have developed the Q Fever – CDNA National Guidelines for Public Health Units.3
Further information about the treatment of Q Fever is detailed in the Debilitating Symptom Complexes Attributed to Ticks (DSCATT) Clinical Pathway 2020.4
Additional information for medical practitioners:
- Q fever: A rural disease with potential urban consequences (article in Australian Journal of General Practice)5
- Diagnosis and management of zoonoses – a tool for general practice (article in Australian Family Physician)6
Coxiella Burnetii Fever; Q Fever Pneumonia; Query Fever
ICD-11: 1C33 Q fever
Q Fever is caused by Coxiella burnetii bacteria.1,2 Animals such as cattle, sheep, goats, and kangaroos are the primary carriers of the bacteria, and can spread it through birth fluids, milk, urine and faeces.2 The bacteria can survive for a long time in the environment and infect humans who breathe in contaminated droplets and dust.1,2 Whilst humans are very vulnerable to getting the disease, it is rare for it to spread between individuals.
Whilst many infected people have no symptoms, those who become sick often have a severe flu-like illness. Some may develop complications associated with the heart, muscles or nervous system. Infections in pregnant women have also been associated with miscarriages, fetal growth retardation and premature births.3 Early recognition and immediate treatment of Q Fever are essential. Whilst affected people usually have an acute infection, they can develop a chronic infection with various other complications.1,3 Those at increased risk of developing chronic Q fever include immunosuppressed individuals, pregnant women and people with heart disease or complications.1,3
A Q Fever vaccine is available to protect people who are at risk; however, screening and testing of Q Fever immunity status is required prior to vaccination.3 People who have had Q Fever should not be vaccinated as it can result in severe reactions. Preventative measures (good hygiene, personal protective equipment and safe, immediate disposal of animal birth materials and manure) can also reduce the risk of disease.1
Symptoms usually begin about 2–3 weeks after exposure to the bacteria; however, this period can be as short as 4 days or as long as 6 weeks.1
It is best to speak to your medical team to learn more about the symptoms and complications of Q Fever.
Additional information can be found in the Australian Government Department of Health factsheet on Q Fever.1
Infection usually occurs by inhalation of the Coxiella burnetii bacteria from air that contains airborne barnyard dust contaminated by dried placental material, birth fluids and waste products of infected animals.1,2 Other modes of transmission to humans, including tick bites, ingestion of unpasteurized milk or dairy products, and human to human transmission (through blood transfusion or mother-to-fetus), are possible but rare.1,2
Diagnosis of Q Fever can be based on symptoms, clinical examination and laboratory tests on blood samples (two or more blood samples on separate occasions may be required). If you suspect you have Q Fever, please see your medical practitioner as early diagnosis and treatment of Q Fever is essential.1
Newborn screening is not applicable for Q Fever as this is an infectious disease in which individuals can be infected at any stage of life.
Acute Q Fever is often treated with antibiotics. Early diagnosis and treatment are important to reduce the risk of long-term complications. Prolonged antibiotics treatment may be required to treat those with chronic Q Fever.1
Please see your general practitioner (GP) as soon as possible if you suspect you have Q Fever. GPs who have diagnosed or are managing a patient with Q Fever are encouraged to consult infectious disease specialists and medical microbiologists for further guidance.4-6
Please visit Australian Clinical Trials to learn about clinical trials for Q Fever in Australia; there may not be any clinical trials currently available.
Information regarding clinical trials for Q Fever in other countries can be found at ClinicalTrials.gov; there may not be any clinical trials currently available.
It is best to discuss your interest in any clinical trials with your medical team to determine suitability and eligibility.
Rare Disease Organisation(s)
There are currently no known rare disease organisations/s supporting people living with Q Fever in Australia. If you are aware of any Q Fever organisations in Australia, please let us know via the Contribute page.
For information on available government and social services that provide support for individuals with a rare disease, please visit the National and State Services pages.
Please visit the ‘Mental Health’ sections listed on the National and State Services pages.
Q Fever is a nationally notifiable disease, which means medical practitioners or laboratories are required, by law, to report cases of Q Fever to their local health.
Further information on Q Fever can be found at:
- Australian Government Department of Health. Australian endemic tick-borne diseases – Q fever. Aug 2021. 5 p. Available from: https://www.health.gov.au/sites/default/files/documents/2021/08/australian-endemic-tick-borne-diseases-q-fever.pdf
- Genetic and Rare Diseases (GARD) Information Center. Q fever. Accessed May 30, 2022. https://rarediseases.info.nih.gov/diseases/7515/q-fever
- Communicable Diseases Network Australia. Q Fever cDNA National Guidelines for Public Health Units. 2018. Available from: https://www.health.gov.au/sites/default/files/documents/2020/02/q-fever-cdna-national-guidelines-for-public-health-units.pdf
- Australian Government Department of Health. Debilitating Symptom Complexes Attributed to Ticks (DSCATT) Clinical Pathway. Oct 2020. 65 p. Available from: https://www.health.gov.au/resources/publications/debilitating-symptom-complexes-attributed-to-ticks-dscatt-clinical-pathway
- Eastwood K, Graves SR, Massey PD, Bosward K, van den Berg D, Hutchinson P. Q fever: A rural disease with potential urban consequences. Aust. J. Gen. Pract. [Internet]. 2018, 47(3):5555. Available from: https://doi.org/10.31128/afp-08-17-4299
- Gunaratnam P, Massey PD, Eastwood K, Graves S, Coote D, Fisher L, et al. Diagnosis and management of zoonoses A tool for general practice. Aust. Fam. Physician. [Internet]. 2014, 43(3):124-8. Available from: https://www.racgp.org.au/getattachment/a8981aa0-78fa-41b2-afa2-dd8db1485a33/Zoonoses.aspx
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