NewsDesk @bactiman63

Health officials report investigating the source of eight cases of Q fever detected in the last week in different areas of Asturias to prevent its spread, according to an El Comercio report.

Image/Robert Herriman

It was the health professionals of the San Agustín de Avilés Hospital who sounded the alarm when five patients were admitted in a few days with symptoms compatible with ‘Q fever’.

“This is an outbreak with a single source of infection,” explained the head of Epidemiological Surveillance of the Principality, Mario Margolles. Although doctors from the Avilesian hospital assure that “only two of the patients are related to each other.”

Margolles noted, “we are looking at the cases that exist throughout Asturias.” The Avilés outbreak is already under control, but we still “have three other cases in which we are trying to identify the source”

Q fever is caused by the obligate intracellular pathogen, Coxiella burnetii. The bacteria naturally infects some animals, such as goats, sheep and cattle. C. burnetii bacteria are found in the birth products (i.e. placenta, amniotic fluid), urine, feces, and milk of infected animals.

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People can get infected by breathing in dust that has been contaminated by infected animal feces, urine, milk, and birth products. Some people never get sick; however those that do usually develop flu-like symptoms including fever, chills, fatigue, and muscle pain.

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 but may cause life-threatening heart valve disease (endocarditis).