Travel Health Service Q Fever
Travel related diseases

Q Fever

What is Q Fever?

Q Fever is a zoonotic infection caused by Coxiella burnetii , usually affecting meat workers and farmers. Usual symptoms include high fever, chills, severe headache, muscle pain, bone pain, and weakness. Pneumonia occurs in about half of the cases. The incubation period is 12 to 39 days. Acute Q Fever usually recovers spontaneously within 2 to 3 weeks. Some people may develop chronic Q Fever, which may last for few months or over a year, leading to endocarditis, myocarditis, myocardic infarction, meningitis, and myelitis. Without proper treatment, the mortality rate can reach 30% to 60%.

How is it transmitted?

Risk of infection exists worldwide; most contract the disease through inhalation of excreta particles from infected ticks and animals (for example: sheep, cattle, cats, dogs, rodents and birds). It can also spread by direct contact with infected animals or consuming polluted water and unpasteurised dairy products.

How to prevent it?

No vaccine is available for prevention in Hong Kong . Traveller should adopt the following measures to reduce the risk of infection:

  • Avoid direct or indirect contact with livestock and poultries ;
  • Do not stay in areas or inn with poor hygiene conditions;
  • Observe good personal and food hygiene , drinks only boiled water and pasteurized dairy products;

How to treat it?

Anyone returning from travel to a Q Fever affected area and then fall sick should seek medical assistance immediately. Q Fever can be treated by antibiotics such as Tetracycline, and Quinolone. For acute Q Fever, the treatment lasts for about 10 to 14 days; for chronic Q Fever, the treatment can last for 2 years or even longer.