Q fever is a high infectious disease which can cause severe anatomical complications and serious illnesses. The disease is generally caused by a bacterium called burnetii. Humans get this disease when they come in contact with animal infected of the bacterium. The disease is an acute and chronic difficulty and many times can cause severe complications like pneumonia, chronic fatigue, hepatitis, endocarditis and vasculitis.
If observed in pregnant women; it results in miscarriage or premature delivery. The health disorder is generally observed in the US, and currently there is no vaccine available to prevent it. Q fever is an uncommon infectious disease transmitted from animals to humans. Also known as zoonosis, the bacterium is commonly found in goats, cattle and sheep. However, certain diagnosis has observed the arrival of infection when the humans come in contact with cats, dogs, rabbits and other animals. In some situations, it is possible the spreading of Q fever from one person to other. Some people with this fever experience very mild symptoms which do not require any medical assistance.
Q fever causes sweating, high fever, headaches, muscle aches, cough, chills, nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea. The disease is seen to cause chronic infection resulting in endocarditis which is the inflammation of the valves of the heart.
Causes of Q fever
It was first identified as a disease in 1930; however, at that time the cause was unknown and unclear. Later after researching, in the year 1937, the Australians and Americans discovered the bacterium Coxeilla burnetii. It is a bacterial infection and generally causes when the person comes in contact with the animals infected.
How does the fever spread?
The bacterium is generally found in the waste products, urine or feaces of the infected animals. It is also found in some portions in the milk of infected animals. The bacteria can be inhaled and ingested; it rarely spreads through human to human contact or through tick bites. It stays in the environment for weeks together and are strong and powerful ones. Exposure to a single bacterium can cause the Q fever in humans.
Forms of Q fever
The fever is observed in two forms acute and chronic. The acute form of Q fever is observed for a certain weeks whereas the chronic form is seen in human for months and years long.
Signs and symptoms of Q fever
There aren’t any specific signs and symptoms observed in case of Q fever, the possibilities of getting Q fever are high when the human comes in close contact with the infected animal. However, some of the symptoms are seen in the acute form of fever; these vary from person to person. Often, people infected with the bacterium will suddenly develop flu-like symptoms where the fever reaches the high temperature of 104 degrees F to 105 degrees F, chills, muscle and joint pain, headache, nausea, cough, vomiting, diarrhoea, rashes and chest and abdominal pain are some of the commonly seen symptoms in people affected of acute Q fever. These symptoms last for up to few weeks in the human body. The chronic form of Q fever is rare and is observed in only 5 % of the population. This one turns up severe complications by causing inflammation of the valves inside the heart which is also called endocarditis. The common symptoms include night sweats, shortness of breath, fever, muscle and joint aches, edema or swelling of legs, and rashes or urtica.
How is Q fever diagnosed?
The diagnosis of Q fever is difficult because the symptoms are very much similar to many of the other illnesses and vary from person to person. The disease is commonly observed in people who have the risk factors or are more prone to getting the fever, the diagnosis is suspected and the condition is more common in people living in the area where the fever is common and present with acute symptoms.
The diagnosis is carried out by testing a blood sample and by further testing the antibodies of the bacterium. The antibody level remains high for years after the person gets infected of Q fever. The diagnosis is done by testing and in some cases culturing the blood and urine samples of the patient.
In some cases, the doctors send the samples for a special PCR (polymerase chain reaction) testing which helps detect the infection earlier than the antibody test. In chronic Q fever, diagnosis is done by testing the infected heart valve tissue. A special lab carries out the culture and test of the tissue or serum because of the highly infectious nature of the organism.
Treatment for Q fever
Medical treatments are always available to get cured of the infection and the disease as a whole. Acute Q fever is treated with the help of antibiotics usually a course of doxycycline for 14 days long is the advised treatment to get free from the fever. A special category of medications like trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole Bactrim and Septra are advised for pregnant women from the time of diagnosis till span of 32 weeks in pregnancy.
Chronic Q fever is a complicated treatment and generally requires months to get cured of the condition.
What are the dangers in getting Q fever?
Q fever is dangerous in pregnancy as it is the most delicate and vital phase where a female body experiences a lot of changes. Around 80 per cent of pregnant women with Q fever can develop complications if left untreated. This can result in miscarriage or premature delivery of the baby with fetal death. Pregnant women are on the highest risks of developing it further in to chronic Q fever, especially in case when women get infected in the first trimester, the infection stays in the body creating further bodily complications.
With the help of proper medications and appropriate treatments the risks of developing further complications get minimized.