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Q fever is found around the world. It is an infection caused by the bacteria Coxiella burnetii which can cause pneumonia and hepatitis (liver inflammation) in its early stage, and infection of the heart valves (endocarditis) in its chronic stage.

The incubation period (time to development of symptoms) for early (acute) Q fever is approximately 20 days. In acute Q fever, the 3 main types of syndromes include flu-like syndrome, pneumonia, and hepatitis. Flu-like syndrome is usually self- limited, lasts up to 3 wks, and may involve high fevers, headaches, and muscle aches. Pneumonia can occur in up to a third of individuals -- most cases are relatively mild and include fever and cough, yet some severe cases have been reported. Hepatitus is another common consequence of Q Fever, which can occur alone or with concurrent pneumonia. Other less common features of acute Q fever include rashes, meningitis, myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle), and pericarditis (inflammation of heart lining).

Chronic Q fever develops in individuals who have been infected for over 6 months. Its main feature is infection of the heart valves. Individuals at highest risk include those with underlying heart valve abnormalities, as well as people with weakened immune systems. Other less common features of chronic Q fever are infection of aneurysms, liver dysfunction (cirrhosis), and lung scarring (interstitial pulmonary fibrosis).


Brown Dog Tick (Rhipicephalus sanguineus)
Rocky Mountain Wood Tick (Dermacentor andersoni)
Lone Star Tick (Amblyomma americanum)

Causative Agent:

Coxiella burnetii

Endemic Area:

Sporadic reports throughout the United States.

Incubation Period:

2-3 weeks

Classic Symptoms:

Acute fever

Lab Test(s):

Serology (Acute and convalescent)


For acute Q fever (early stage) doxycycline is the recommended agent. For chronic Q fever, a combination of doxycycline and hydroxychloroquine is frequently used.

Search the Center for Disease Control, The National Institute of Health or PubMed for more information on Q-fever.

Source: Dutchess County DOH, National Institute of Health








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