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Wisconsin Department of Health Services

Communicable  Diseases Subjects A-Z
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Disease Reporting

Q Fever

(Coxiella burnetii infection)

General information

Q fever is a worldwide zoonotic disease caused by the bacteria Coxiella burnetii. Although a variety of animals may be infected, cattle, sheep, and goats are the primary reservoirs for C. burnetii. Infected animals can shed the organism in birthing fluids, placenta, milk, urine, and feces. Coxiella is extremely hardy and resistant to heat, drying, and many common disinfectants which enable it to survive for long periods in a contaminated environment (maternity pen, stall, barnyard). Infection of humans usually occurs by inhalation of C burnetii from air that contains barnyard dust contaminated by dried placental material, birth fluids, and excreta of infected animals. Other less common modes of transmission include ingestion of unpasteurized milk and dairy products, and tick bites.

The majority of infected humans exhibit mild flu-like symptoms or are asymptomatic. Acute and chronic clinical disease forms can occur in patients. Acute illness symptoms range from fever, headache, myalgia, non-productive cough, and gastrointestinal upset to more serious illness such as pneumonia, hepatitis, miscarriage, or myocarditis. Chronic Q fever is a severe illness occurring in <5% of infected patients. Endocarditis is the most common manifestation of the chronic form. Diagnosis of Q fever can be challenging, but the disease is often successfully treated when identified early.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Q fever (Exit DHS)

Information for health professionals

This is a Wisconsin disease surveillance category II disease: 
Report to the patient's local public health department electronically, through the Wisconsin Electronic Disease Surveillance System (WEDSS), by mail or fax using an Acute and Communicable Disease case report F-44151 or by other means within 72 hours upon recognition of a case.
Information on communicable disease reporting

Wisconsin case reporting and public health follow-up guidelines: Q fever EpiNet 
CDC Q Fever case report (Exit DHS)
CDC Q Fever diagnosis and laboratory guidance for clinicians (Exit DHS)

Additional resources

The Center for Food Security and Public Health - Q Fever (Exit DHS)

Contacts

Wisconsin Local Health Departments - Regional offices - Tribal agencies

Last Revised: March 04, 2014