Health officials in the municipality of Barbosa in Sao Paolo state, Brazil have reported a rare outbreak of human Q fever, according to a Jornal Dia a Dia report (computer translated).


The bacterial disease is rare and this would be among the first cases of outbreak in Brazil.

The Health Secretary of Barbosa noted that testing revealed that 16 people were infected with the bacterium. The patients have been treated with antibiotics. Health officials say it is not clear where the source is of the outbreak.

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 theseanimals 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 bypneumonia 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