Q fever

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Q fever is a disease caused by infection with Coxiella burnetii,[1] a bacterium that affects humans and other animals. This organism is uncommon but may be found in cattle, sheep, goats and other domestic mammals, including cats and dogs. The infection results from inhalation of endospores, and from contact with the milk, urine, feces, vaginal mucus, or semen of infected animals. Rarely, the disease is tick borne. [2] The incubation period is 9–40 days. It can be considered the most infectious disease in the world, as a human being can be infected by a single bacterium.[3] The bacterium is an obligate intracellular pathogen.

Contents

History

It was first described by Edward Holbrook Derrick[4] in abattoir workers in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia. The "Q" stands for "query" and was applied at a time when the causative agent was unknown; it was chosen over suggestions of "abattoir fever" and "Queensland rickettsial fever", to avoid directing negative connotations at either the cattle industry or the state of Queensland.[5]

The pathogen of Q fever was discovered in 1937, when Frank Macfarlane Burnet and Mavis Freeman isolated the bacterium from one of Derrick’s patients.[6] It was originally identified as a species of Rickettsia. H.R. Cox and Davis isolated it from ticks in Montana, USA in 1938.[7] It is a zoonotic disease whose most common animal reservoirs are cattle, sheep and goats. Coxiella burnetii is no longer regarded as closely related to Rickettsiae but as similar to Legionella and Francisella and is a proteobacterium.

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