Two Q Fever Outbreaks in the US

Jun 24, 2011 | Amy L. Sonricker Hansen |

Q fever is caused by a bacteria (Coxiella burnetii) primarily found in sheep, goats, and cattle. Infected animals secrete the bacteria in milk, urine, feces, and amniotic fluids when giving birth. Humans typically become infected by inhalation of the bacteria present in barnyard dust, dried birth fluids, or feces. Other routes of transmission include tick bites and ingestion of unpasteurized dairy products. Human-to-human transmission is rare. Currently, two Q fever outbreaks are ongoing in the United States. In Livingston County, Michigan three cases have been reported, and are associated with the consumption of raw milk products. Local public health officials are reminding consumers of the importance of only consuming pasteurized dairy products. In the states of Washington and Montana, eleven people have been diagnosed with Q fever after having contact with infected goats. (Six cases in Washington and 5 in Montana) The goats were part of a now quarantined herd in central Washington that was later sold to a livestock operator in Montana. The investigation into this multi-state outbreak is ongoing.

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