Oregon health officials are reporting an “unusually high number in a short period of time” Q fever cases in Linn and Benton counties, according to a Albany Democrat-Herald report.
According to Frank Moore, Linn County public health director, “They [the cases] are 45 miles apart, so they aren’t related,” Moore said. “We have to emphasize that the general public is not at risk, but people should be diligent about washing their hands, just like we advise during flu season.”
More says Oregon sees some 3 to 5 cases annually. “Therefore, these cases represent an unusually high number in a short period of time for this geographic area,” he said. “We are requesting the public’s help identifying and reporting additional cases.”
Q fever is caused by the obligate intracellular pathogen, Coxiella burnetii. The disease is usually transmitted to people through either infected milk or through aerosols.
This disease is found on most continents with the reported incidence probably much lower than the actual because so many cases are so mild.
Animal reservoirs of C. burnetii include sheep, cattle, goats, dogs and cats. In areas where these animals are present, Q fever affects veterinarians, meatpacking workers, and farmers.
Q fever is also considered a potential agent of bioterrorism.
The symptoms of Q fever according to the CDC are an unexplained febrile illness, sometimes accompanied by pneumonia and/or hepatitis is the most common clinical presentation. Illness onset typically occurs within 2–3 weeks after exposure.
The mortality rate for acute Q fever is low (1–2%), and the majority of persons with mild illness recover spontaneously within a few weeks although antibiotic treatment will shorten the duration of illness and lessen the risk of complications. Chronic Q fever is uncommon (<1% of acutely infected patients) but may cause life-threatening heart valve disease (endocarditis). For more infectious disease news and information, visit and “like” the Infectious Disease News Facebook page