The 2007–2010 Q Fever Epidemic in The Netherlands: Characteristics of Notified Acute Q Fever Patients and the Association With Dairy Goat Farming

FEMS Immunol Med Microbiol. 2012 Feb;64(1):3-12. doi: 10.1111/j.1574-695X.2011.00876.x.


We describe the Q fever epidemic in the Netherlands with emphasis on the epidemiological characteristics of acute Q fever patients and the association with veterinary factors. Data from 3264 notifications for acute Q fever in the period from 2007 through 2009 were analysed. The patients most affected were men, smokers and persons aged 40–60 years. Pneumonia was the most common clinical presentation (62% in 2007 and 2008). Only 3.2% of the patients were working in the agriculture sector and 0.5% in the meat-processing industry including abattoirs. Dairy goat farms with Coxiella burnetii-induced abortion waves were mainly located in the same area where human cases occurred. Airborne transmission of contaminated dust particles from commercial dairy goat farms in densely populated areas has probably caused this epidemic. In 2010, there was a sharp decline in the number of notified cases following the implementation of control measures on dairy goat and sheep farms such as vaccination, hygiene measures and culling of pregnant animals on infected farms. In combination with a rise in the human population with antibodies against C. burnetii, these have most likely ended the outbreak. Development of chronic Q fever in infected patients remains an important problem for years to come.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Animal Husbandry*
  • Animals
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Coxiella burnetii / isolation & purification*
  • Disease Outbreaks*
  • Female
  • Goats
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infection Control / methods
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Netherlands / epidemiology
  • Pneumonia, Bacterial / epidemiology
  • Pneumonia, Bacterial / microbiology
  • Pneumonia, Bacterial / transmission
  • Q Fever / epidemiology*
  • Q Fever / microbiology
  • Q Fever / transmission
  • Risk Factors
  • Young Adult