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Chronic fatigue seen in many previously infected with Q fever in the Netherlands

Tuesday 21 February 2012


From US publication the Examiner:


Coxiella burnettii
Many sufferers of acute Q fever, now suffer with
chronic fatigue years later according to study.
(Credit: National Institutes of Health)

Chronic fatigue seen in many previously infected with Q fever in the Netherlands

Infectious Disease Examiner

In 2007, the Netherlands began a large, drawn-out outbreak of Q fever, which resulted in thousands being infected and a dozen or so fatalities.

In a study just released in the European Journal of Public Health, Dutch researchers show that many of those infected with Coxiella burnetti previously, now face chronic fatigue syndrome and other physical symptoms.

1,168 Q-fever patients were notified in 2007 and 2008 in the Netherlands. The study targeted 898 acute Q-fever patients, notified in 2007 and 2008 residing in the Province Noord-Brabant. Patients from the 2008 cohort were mailed a questionnaire at 12 months and those of the 2007 cohort at 12-26 months after onset of illness. In the questionnaire, patients reported underlying illness, Q-fever-related symptoms and sick leave.

Some of the key results found in the study include:

  • Forty percent of the working patients reported long-term (greater than 1 month) sick leave. 
  • Daily activities were affected in 30% of cases.
  • 20% of respondents reported issues with fatigue.
  • 9% of those who did return to work reported they were (up to 2 years post-Q fever infection)  still unable to function at pre-infection levels due to fatigue or concentration problems.

Based on the results of the study, the authors conclude that Q-fever poses a serious persisting long-term burden on patients and society.

Q fever is caused by the obligate intracellular pathogen, Coxiella burnetii. The disease is usually transmitted to people through either infected milk or through aerosols.

This disease is found on most continents with the reported incidence probably much lower than the actual because so many cases are so mild.

Animal reservoirs of C. burnetii include sheep, cattle, goats, dogs and cats. In areas where these animals are present, Q fever affects veterinarians, meatpacking workers, and farmers.

Q fever is also considered a potential agent of bioterrorism.

The symptoms of Q fever according to the CDC are an unexplained febrile illness, sometimes accompanied by pneumonia and/or hepatitis is the most common clinical presentation. Illness onset typically occurs within 2–5 weeks after exposure.

The mortality rate for acute Q fever is low (1–2%), and the majority of persons with mild illness recover spontaneously within a few weeks although antibiotic treatment will shorten the duration of illness and lessen the risk of complications. Chronic Q fever is uncommon (<1% of acutely infected patients) but may cause life-threatening heart valve disease (endocarditis).


The above originally appeared here.



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