Surveillance for Q Fever Endocarditis in the United States, 1999-2015

Clin Infect Dis. 2017 Nov 13;65(11):1872-1877. doi: 10.1093/cid/cix702.


Background: Q fever is a worldwide zoonosis caused by Coxiella burnetii. In some persons, particularly those with cardiac valve disease, infection with C. burnetii can cause a life-threatening infective endocarditis. There are few descriptive analyses of Q fever endocarditis in the United States.

Methods: Q fever case report forms submitted during 1999-2015 were reviewed to identify reports describing endocarditis. Cases were categorized as confirmed or probable using criteria defined by the Council for State and Territorial Epidemiologists (CSTE). Demographic, laboratory, and clinical data were analyzed.

Results: Of 140 case report forms reporting endocarditis, 49 met the confirmed definition and 36 met the probable definition. Eighty-two percent were male and the median age was 57 years (range, 16-87 years). Sixty-seven patients (78.8%) were hospitalized, and 5 deaths (5.9%) were reported. Forty-five patients (52.9%) had a preexisting valvulopathy. Eight patients with endocarditis had phase I immunoglobulin G antibody titers >800 but did not meet the CSTE case definition for Q fever endocarditis.

Conclusions: These data summarize a limited set of clinical and epidemiological features of Q fever endocarditis collected through passive surveillance in the United States. Some cases of apparent Q fever endocarditis could not be classified by CSTE laboratory criteria, suggesting that comparison of phase I and phase II titers could be reexamined as a surveillance criterion. Prospective analyses of culture-negative endocarditis are needed to better assess the clinical spectrum and magnitude of Q fever endocarditis in the United States.

Keywords: Coxiella burnetii; Q fever; endocarditis; valvulopathy.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Coxiella burnetii / immunology
  • Endocarditis, Bacterial / classification
  • Endocarditis, Bacterial / epidemiology*
  • Endocarditis, Bacterial / immunology
  • Endocarditis, Bacterial / microbiology
  • Epidemiological Monitoring*
  • Female
  • Heart Valve Diseases / complications
  • Heart Valve Diseases / epidemiology
  • Heart Valve Diseases / immunology
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin G / blood
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Q Fever / epidemiology*
  • Q Fever / immunology
  • Q Fever / microbiology
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Young Adult


  • Immunoglobulin G