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Q Fever

Most recent posts below

The Netherlands is suffering from the largest Q fever epidemic ever reported globally
In early December new measures were decided upon by the Ministry. Q fever bacteria, which are resistant to heat, drying, and many disinfectants, are excreted in the milk, urine and feces of infected animals, and most abundantly in the amniotic fluid released during the birth of young. Human beings can contract the disease by breathing in contaminated barnyard dust. Many infections are subclinical, but some may be very serious; causing severe pneumonia and rarely hepatitis and a form of endocarditis. While treatment with antibiotics generally resolves the infection, some victims develop a chronic and more dangerous form of the disease. There have been six deaths.

16 May 2012 ~ An apology for Q fever would help patients

July 28th 2010 ~ Dutch Q-fever bacterium possibly unique

July 17th 2010 ~Restrictions lifted

May 20th 2010 ~ EFSA issues scientific advice on Q fever

May 19th 2010 ~ ".. it's always the outlook of humans that decides the morality of actions. I always wonder who gave us that right."

May 13th 2010 ~ "Only when vaccination is completed in a timely fashion on all farms, would the breeding ban and the supply ban be lifted ..."

April 19th 2010 ~ Q fever in the Netherlands - the costs

April 2nd 2010 ~ "most likely to be related to intensive goat farming"

March 24th 2010 ~ An important ProMed posting- the Dutch Ministry of Agriculture -- Advice to Ministries of Agriculture and Health

March 24th 2010 ~ So is the UK considering vaccinating against Q Fever?

March 13th 2010 ~ Q fever conference presentations

March 10th 2010 ~ Excellent Report of February's conference in the Netherlands

27th February 2010 ~ Most Dutch goat breeders are infected by Q fever

February 27th 2010 ~ "Health authorities in the Arctic area need to be aware of C. burnetii as a possible infectious agent."

February 25th 2010 ~ Something positive in the latest letter to the Dutch Parliament:

February 23rd 2010 ~ "keeping so many animals inside all their lives must be a factor predisposing them to this intense Q fever infection"

February 21 2010  3 dairy goat farms, in Hilvarenbeek, Esch and Liessehave, been declared as Q-fever infected

February 19th 2010 ~ No more culling 2011

February 17th 2010 ~ PCR testing

Feb 16th 2010 ~ 2nd dairy sheep plant with Q fever

February 15th 2010 ~ European Commission wants EFSA to provide urgent scientific advice about human Q fever cases.

February 7 2010 ~ ProMed latest report - variation in the results of the so-called bulk milk tests

Feb 6 2010 ~ Goat cull halted after Q fever test problems

February 5 2010 ~ EFSA conference is to be held on 25 and 26 Feb 2010 in Breda, south Netherlands under the title "One Health in relation to Q-fever, in humans and animals"

30 January 2010 ~Q Fever. Culling in the Netherlands has been put on hold.

30 January 2010 ~ plans to cull thousands of potentially infected animals were reportedly put on hold after a parliamentary debate

January 26 2010 ~ For the 1st time, Q-fever has been detected on a dairy sheep farm.

January 21 2010 ~Dutch correspondent: "As usual, the media are playing a bad part in this"

January 21 2010 ~ Sheep and goats kept on non-commercial holdings will be isolated from the public

January 18 2010 ~ "How could it have got to this point: that people became ill and animals had to die?"

January 13 2010 ~ " At small-scale farms there are fewer animals that could excrete the Q-fever bacteria. Therefore these farms are of less risk to public health and therefore the pregnant animals at these farms will not be killed."

January 13 2010 ~ "I truly believe this time they are trying hard to do things correctly... however gruesome they are."

January 8 2010 ~ " the farmers want more than sympathy. A newly formed association is considering a lawsuit."

January 7 2010 ~ Update Q-fever - 6 January 2010 - from the Ministries

Jan 6 2010 ~ Commission Vaarkamp-Ohl: Combination of anesthesia - euthanasia recommended from animal welfare perspective

December 23 2009 ~ "Our results show that the unprecedented, ongoing Q fever outbreak in the Netherlands involves multiple genotypes of C. burnetii"

December 22 2009 ~ "Inexcusable," says Dr Watkins, "that the Q fever outbreak in Holland was allowed to grow over 3 years to a situation they can only handle by slaughtering.."

December 21 2009 ~ RIVM's advice for culling policy and killing methods of goats infected with Q-fever.

December 13 2009 ~ Q fever: "I think the vets are right," says Dr Ruth Watkins

December 13 2009 ~ Radio Netherlands: Press Review Friday 11 December 2009. Excerpt:

December 12 2009 ~ "We are heading towards a disastrous situation." Q fever slaughter plan - vets do not want to go through the trauma of killing healthy, pregnant animals

December 10 2009 ~ ProMed moderator latest comment: cattle, dogs and cats, are not to be disregarded

December 10 2009 ~ Vaccine Coxevac made by Ceva in France, has been available and is effective if given before pregnancy in preventing Q fever infection

December 9 2009 ~ On farms with Q-fever where goats have already been vaccinated, infected animals will be slaughtered, whether they are pregnant or not.

December 2 2009~ Dutch Food Safety Authority (VWA): 55 farms with Q-fever ".. lower than expected."

November 18 2009~ The excretion of Q-fever bacteria by goats varies during the season.

November 16 2009 ~ "I have found a good article in "Emerging Infectious Diseases", EID, published by CDC and one can read all their articles free of charge..." writes Ruth Watkins

November 14/15 2009 ~ The Q fever organism is so infectious to work with in the laboratory that it is only cultured in very high containment facilities - "They really have a problem..."

November 14 2009 ~ The zoonosis, Q fever, in the Netherlands has affected 2200 people so far this year - at least 6 fatally.

November 14 2009 ~ How serious is Q fever?

Email received from Dr Ruth Watkins November 14 2009

September 29 2009 ~ Compulsory vaccination against the zoonosis, Q fever, in Holland from next year

Email received from Ruth Watkins December 13 2009

I think the vets are right.
1.  I think individual goats sheep should be tested, using PCR on a milk sample.  One could do them in batches of 10 and then if there is a positive batch then test each one individually. One may have to do this after birthing as milk in any quantity is not available before birthing.
2. On farms where there is known to be Q fever the goats sheep could be treated with tetracycline starting at least 2 weeks before kidding lambing is due and continuing for a week afterwards.  It should be given in the drinking water as injection would spread bloodborne Q fever infection further.  The water would have to be in buckets or troughs so that the correct concentration would be achieved, not in self filling bowls as it would be diluted.  The other possibility is to put tetracycline in the feed.  The goal here is to suppress Q fever infection at the time of birthing so reducing the environmental contamination.  Humans take tetracycline for many weeks at a time, I did for 6 weeks at the first few lambings I was so concerned with catching psittacosis or Q fever from the sheep.
3.  There should be a policy of water washing removal of conception products onto manure heaps or whatever is deemed the best practice, after every birth without delay, so no dust forms.  Veterinary supervision of every dairy farm with Q fever should be done, the correct dosing of the water etc and the methods for removal of conception products.  Dust clean up in general will be necessary.
4.  Infected goats sheep can be followed up to see if their infection is chronic, PCR on milk of goats and perhaps on vaginal swabs or faeces from sheep, I am not sure what the shedding patterns are for the Q fever strains in Holland are, they should jolly well know this by now!.  It would seem from what I have read that for goats the main shedding route is the milk and in the case of sheep may be other routes as well.  All uninfected goats sheep PCR and serology negative after kidding should be vaccinated.  In the case of chronic infections perhaps goat mutton or sheep mutton before putting back to the billies or rams would be the best option.  Past infections which are not chronic could be followed up, to learn more about the disease, does it reactivate?
5.  The testing would be very expensive and may be best applied after kidding lambing.  Obviously milk with tetracycline in it will not be saleable but this is a small price to pay.
 6.  Instead of just killing everything and learning very little this would be a way of containing the situation.  Spread at the abattoirs is certain, and possibly en route from births in the transport, and there is still the removal of infected dust at the farms to be worked out too.
yours sincerely Ruth Watkins