What is Q fever?
How can someone come into contact with Q fever?
- Breathing in the bacteria that may be in the air (dust particles in or around farms/barns may be contaminated by dried birth fluids and feces of infected animals);
- Drinking contaminated milk (not very common); or
- Being bitten by infected ticks.
Q fever as a weapon:
Please note: Just because you come into contact with Q fever does not mean you will get sick from it.
What happens if someone gets sick from Q fever?
- high fevers (up to 104-105° F)
- sore throat
- severe headache
- general discomfort
- muscle pain
- chest pain
- stomach pain
Chronic Q fever, an infection that continues for more than six months, is not common but is a much more serious disease. Patients who have had acute Q fever may develop the chronic form as soon as one year or as long as 20 years after the first illness. A serious complication of chronic Q fever is the inflammation of heart valves.
Most patients who develop chronic Q fever have a history of valvular heart disease. People who have received transplants, patients with cancer and those with chronic kidney disease also are at risk of developing chronic Q fever.
How likely is someone to die from Q fever?
Only 1 percent to 2 percent of people with Q fever die of the disease. As many as 65 percent of persons with chronic Q fever may die of the disease.
What is the treatment for Q fever?
- Prevention of illness after contact: Antibiotics are not routinely given to try to prevent the development of the disease.
- Treatment of illness: Antibiotic treatment works best when started within the first three days of the illness. Chronic Q fever is much more difficult to treat and often requires the use of many drugs. Some patients may need surgery to remove damaged heart valves.
Is there a vaccine for Q fever?
What should be done if someone comes into contact with Q fever?
If you or someone you know is showing symptoms of Q fever, call your health care provider or the Illinois Poison Center right away. The toll-free number for the poison center is 1-800-222-1222.