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Spain: Q fever confirmed in Biological Mechanical Treatment plant employees in Bilbao

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By NewsDesk  @bactiman63

At least three cases of Q fever have been confirmed among workers at the Biological Mechanical Treatment (TMB) plant located in the Bilbao area of ​​Artigas, as this newspaper has learned. Two of the three affected have been hospitalized for several days at Galdakao and Cruces Hospitals and a fourth employee is waiting for their infection to be confirmed, according to worker sources.

Image/CIA

The Occupational Health and Safety committee met yesterday with the company to explain the situation without any decision being made at the moment. Union sources have assured this afternoon that they expect a visit from Osalan inspectors to the TMB plant shortly in light of the cases detected.

The new presence of Q fever among TMB employees follows a severe outbreak in 2014 which affected dozens of workers, forcing the plant to close until its complete disinfection.

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.

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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 bypneumonia and/or hepatitis is the most common clinical presentation. Illness onset typically occurs within 2–3 weeks after exposure.

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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).