This information is provided by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center (GARD).
Q fever is a worldwide disease with acute and chronic stages caused by the bacteria known as Coxiella burnetii. Cattle, sheep, and goats are the primary reservoirs although a variety of species may be infected. Organisms are excreted in birth fluids, milk, urine, and feces of infected animals and are able to survive for long periods in the environment. Infection of humans usually occurs by inhalation of these organisms from air that contains airborne barnyard dust contaminated by dried placental material, birth fluids, and waste products of infected animals. Other modes of transmission to humans, including tick bites, ingestion of unpasteurized milk or dairy products, and human to human transmission, are rare. Humans are often very susceptible to the disease, and very few organisms may be required to cause infection. In less than 5% of cases the affected people with acute Q fever infection develop a chronic Q fever. Treatment of the acute form is made with antibiotics. The chronic form’s treatment depends on the symptoms.
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