What is it?
Q fever is caused by the bacteria Coxiella Burnetii.
What to look for
Infection is asymptomatic in at least half of cases. Those who experience symptoms may develop fever, chills, sweats, fatigue, severe headache, weakness, and muscle and joint pain. Complications can include hepatitis, pneumonia and endocarditis. Death is rare.
How is it transmitted?
The bacteria can survive in air, soil and water. It is transmitted to humans by inhaling infected soil and dust. The main sources of infection for humans include cattle, sheep and goats.
Immunising high risk groups (abattoir workers, farmers, stockyard workers, shearers, animal transporters, and others exposed to cattle, camels, goats, and kangaroos or their products) is the best way to prevent Q fever. Before vaccination, serological and skin testing should be performed. If previous infection is confirmed, vaccination is not needed. Vaccination generally provides lifelong protection.
Vaccination is not recommended in those <15 years.
Egg allergy is a contraindication to immunisation.
- The Department of Health: Q fever
- Australian Immunisation Handbook: Q fever chapter
- Health Direct Australia: Q fever
- Australian Q Fever Register
Author: Rachael McGuire (SAEFVIC Research Nurse, Murdoch Children’s Research Institute)
Date: September 2018
Materials in this section are updated as new information and vaccines become available. The Melbourne Vaccine Education Centre (MVEC) staff regularly reviews materials for accuracy.
You should not consider the information in this site to be specific, professional medical advice for your personal health or for your family’s personal health. For medical concerns, including decisions about vaccinations, medications and other treatments, you should always consult a healthcare professional.