‘Q’ fever is an acute febrile illness seen mainly among members of the farming community. The infection is contracted from sheep and cows mainly by inhalation of infected dust, but can be spread by raw milk.
The symptoms bear a marked resemblance to influenza and in the majority of cases the illness clears up spontaneously. A firm diagnosis can best be made by demonstrating a rise in complement fixing antibodies. Patchy consolidation of the lungs is seen on X-ray in about one-third of the cases and occasionally the infection becomes implanted on previously damaged heart valves and gives rise to subacute bacterial endocarditis. Treatment with tetracycline or trimethoprim sulphamethoxazole is indicated.
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