Epidemic Q fever in humans in the Netherlands

Adv Exp Med Biol. 2012;984:329-64. doi: 10.1007/978-94-007-4315-1_17.


In 2005, Q fever was diagnosed on two dairy goat farms and 2 years later it emerged in the human population in the south of the Netherlands. From 2007 to 2010, more than 4,000 human cases were notified with an annual seasonal peak. The outbreaks in humans were mainly restricted to the south of the country in an area with intensive dairy goat farming. In the most affected areas, up to 15% of the population may have been infected. The epidemic resulted in a serious burden of disease, with a hospitalisation rate of 20% of notified cases and is expected to result in more cases of chronic Q fever among risk groups in the coming years. The most important risk factor for human Q fever is living close (<5 km) to an infected dairy goat farm. Occupational exposure plays a much smaller role. In 2009 several veterinary control measures were implemented including mandatory vaccination of dairy goats and dairy sheep, improved hygiene measures, and culling of pregnant animals on infected farms. The introduction of these drastic veterinary measures has probably ended the Q fever outbreak, for which the Netherlands was ill-prepared.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Coxiella burnetii / isolation & purification*
  • Epidemics
  • Humans
  • Netherlands / epidemiology
  • Q Fever / epidemiology*
  • Q Fever / microbiology
  • Risk Factors
  • Zoonoses / epidemiology
  • Zoonoses / microbiology