Russia Reports Q Fever Cases

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Q fever
Source: Freepik

The Russian region of Rostov Oblast has reported 19 cases of the zoonotic disease Q fever, also called coxiellosis.

In an interview with the state-affiliated media RIA Novosti, Svetlana Nenadskaya reported that the Rostov region has registered 19 cases of Q fever this year. The head of the epidemiological surveillance department of the regional Rospotrebnadzor further added that the last recorded outbreak in the region occurred in 2001-20002. It is unclear what caused the recent surge in cases.

This year, 19 laboratory-confirmed cases of coxiellosis [Q fever] have been registered in the Salsky and Remontnensky districts of the Rostov region… The last time this disease was recorded in the region was in 2001-2002.

Svetlana Nenadskaya, head of the epidemiological surveillance department of the regional Rospotrebnadzor

Agriculture Workers Most at Risk

The bacteria Coxiella burnetii is responsible for causing Q fever. It is commonly found in farm animals such as goats, cattle, and sheep. Ixodid and argas ticks also serve as a reservoir for the bacteria. Animal birth products (placenta, amniotic fluid), milk, urine, and faeces can contain the bacteria. Humans are generally infected from inhaling barnyard dust contaminated with infected animal products. Hence, veterinarians, farmers, and meatpacking workers are most commonly affected. Moreover, drinking unpasteurized milk can also transmit the bacteria to humans.

While most people remain asymptomatic, some can develop a flu-like illness. The symptoms typically begin 2-3 weeks after exposure. These include a high fever, severe headache, chills, cough, fatigue, nausea and vomiting. In severe diseases, people can also develop pneumonia or hepatitis. Moreover, a small percentage of people develop chronic Q fever which can turn into endocarditis. Endocarditis can present with shortness of breath, night sweats, fatigue, weight loss, and swelling of limbs. People with weak immune systems, heart valve disease or any heart abnormalities are at higher risk of chronic Q fever. 

Although antibiotics are available for the disease, most people recover without any treatment. However, those with a severe infection of chronic Q fever require weeks or months long antibiotic treatment.

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