Call Your Closest Clinic, Australia-Wide
Call Your Closest Clinic, Australia-Wide

Consider Q Fever Vaccination

 Dr Olga Ilic - GP Shepparton Travel Clinic

Q fever is a disease found within Australia - yet many Aussies have never heard of it. Despite there being an effective vaccine, Q Fever continues to cause illness and suffering.

Q fever most commonly causes an illness resembling the flu. Symptoms may include high fevers, joint and muscle aches, headaches, and extreme fatigue and may last many weeks. Sometimes, more severe illness including heart disease, pneumonia, hepatitis and persistent profound fatigue can occur. Often diagnosis is difficult and the costs of health care may be high.

Q fever was first described in 1935 in abattoir workers in Brisbane. The Q stands for query as the cause was not initially known. Now we recognise that Q fever is caused by a bacteria called Coxiella burnetti.

People catch Q fever from animals mostly farm animals such as sheep, cattle and goats. It is possible however to catch Q fever from native animals such as kangaroos and feral or domestic mammals such as cats and dogs. Animals often do not appear unwell.

We catch Q fever often by inhaling dust contaminated with animal products (urine, faeces, birth products) or by having contact with contaminated animals, their hide, contaminated straw, or drinking raw milk.

Australia is the only nation using a vaccine to prevent Q fever but still, most Australians are unaware of the illness or the vaccine. The vaccine was first developed in Australia too!

Vaccination involves 2 visits to the doctor. It is imperative that the vaccine is not given to someone who has already had Q fever,  so the first visit consists of a blood and skin test to check whether you have already had Q fever exposure. At the second visit, results are checked and vaccination provided if indicated.

Below is a list of people who are considered at high risk and who should strongly consider vaccination-

·   farmers, hobby farmers esp if sheep, cattle, and goat farmers

·   shooters

·   abattoir workers, including visitors and tradesmen

·   meat inspectors

·   shearers, wool sorters

·   veterinarians and animal handlers

·   animal transporters

·   professional dog and cat breeders

·   horticulturists or gardeners who may come into contact with dust, potentially contaminated by animal milk, urine, faeces, or birth products.

Unfortunately, the vaccine is not government funded but if vaccination is required for work your employer may contribute to the cost or you may be able to claim it as a tax-deductible expense.

More information about Q Fever vaccine is available here 

Q fever in the news 

There are many people who should strongly consider Q fever screening and vaccination. If you would like further information please contact your local TMA clinic.