Human Q Fever on the Guiana Shield and Brazil: Recent Findings and Remaining Questions

Curr Trop Med Rep. 2021;8(3):173-182. doi: 10.1007/s40475-021-00243-4. Epub 2021 Jun 1.


Purpose of review: In this review, we report on the state of knowledge about human Q fever in Brazil and on the Guiana Shield, an Amazonian region located in northeastern South America. There is a contrast between French Guiana, where the incidence of this disease is the highest in the world, and other countries where this disease is practically non-existent.

Recent findings: Recent findings are essentially in French Guiana where a unique strain MST17 has been identified; it is probably more virulent than those usually found with a particularly marked pulmonary tropism, a mysterious animal reservoir, a geographical distribution that raises questions.

Summary: Q fever is a bacterial zoonosis due to Coxiella burnetii that has been reported worldwide. On the Guiana Shield, a region mostly covered by Amazonian forest, which encompasses the Venezuelan State of Bolivar, Guyana, Suriname, French Guiana, and the Brazilian State of Amapá, the situation is very heterogeneous. While French Guiana is the region reporting the highest incidence of this disease in the world, with a single infecting clone (MST 117) and a unique epidemiological cycle, it has hardly ever been reported in other countries in the region. This absence of cases raises many questions and is probably due to massive under-diagnosis. Studies should estimate comprehensively the true burden of this disease in the region.

Keywords: Brazil; Community-acquired pneumonia; Coxiella burnetii; French Guiana; Guiana Shield; Guyana; Latin America; Q fever; Suriname; Venezuela; Zoonosis.

Publication types

  • Review