Q Fever

Vet Microbiol. 2010 Jan 27;140(3-4):297-309. doi: 10.1016/j.vetmic.2009.07.016. Epub 2009 Aug 8.


Q fever is a zoonotic disease caused by the ubiquitous pathogen Coxiella burnetii responsible for acute and chronic clinical manifestations. Farm animals and pets are the main reservoirs of infection, and transmission to human beings is mainly accomplished through inhalation of contaminated aerosols. This illness is associated with a wide clinical spectrum, from asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic seroconversion to fatal disease. In humans Q fever can manifest as an acute disease (mainly as a self-limited febrile illness, pneumonia, or hepatitis) or as a chronic disease (mainly endocarditis), especially in patients with previous valvulopathy and to a lesser extent in immunocompromised hosts and in pregnant women. In contrast in animals, Q fever is in most cases, strikingly asymptomatic. The definite diagnosis of Q fever is made based on a significant increase in serum antibody titers, the determination of which often requires considerable time, and therefore patients must be monitored for a certain period. The treatment is effective and well tolerated, but must be adapted to the acute or chronic pattern with the tetracyclines to be considered the mainstay of antibiotic therapy. Several actions have been proposed to prevent and reduce the animal and environmental contamination. Vaccination of animals in infected flocks, as well as in uninfected ones close to them, with an efficient vaccine can prevent abortions and shedding of the bacteria.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Domestic / microbiology*
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use
  • Antibodies, Bacterial / blood
  • Coxiella burnetii / isolation & purification*
  • Disease Reservoirs
  • Humans
  • Q Fever / epidemiology*
  • Q Fever / microbiology
  • Q Fever / pathology
  • Q Fever / veterinary*
  • Serologic Tests
  • Tetracyclines / therapeutic use
  • Zoonoses / epidemiology*
  • Zoonoses / microbiology*


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Antibodies, Bacterial
  • Tetracyclines