Q fever outbreak in Melbourne’s west

Julia Medew of The Age reports that health officials are investigating an outbreak of a rare and potentially serious infectious disease among meat workers in Melbourne’s western suburbs.

q.feverPeople working in and around Vic Wide Meat Brokers and W J Drever in Laverton North are being tested for Q fever after six employees of the two meat businesses fell ill with it.

Other staff working at the site and at similar businesses nearby are now being contacted to ensure they are vaccinated against the disease which usually produces flu-like symptoms and can cause pneumonia and liver inflammation. While only half of all people infected with it get symptoms, it is fatal for one to two per cent of those people.

The Victorian department of health is now writing to contractors who may have visited the site since late last year to provide them with advice about signs and symptoms. The businesses are located at 9 Holcourt Road in Laverton North.

“Both the Department and WorkSafe officials have visited and inspected the premises to check on the vaccination status of other staff, and arrange testing and vaccinations, as required,” said Victoria’s Chief Health Officer Professor Charles Guest. “At this stage there is no broader public health issue as our investigation shows all exposures have been confined to the site and have occurred in the workplace.”

 

Kangeroo poo suspect: Q fever rises in Australia

The [Illawarra] region’s public health director has moved to allay community concerns after several cases of confirmed Q fever.

kangaroo-pic-dm-530558559Curtis Gregory said 7 cases of the potentially debilitating disease had been confirmed within the Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District so far this year [2016].

Statewide the number of cases has doubled in 5 years, from 130 in 2012, to 260 in 2015. In the 1st 6 months of 2016, NSW [New South Wales] Health has been notified of 88 cases.

“Q fever is a bacterial infection normally spread to humans by infected animals,” Mr Gregory said. “It’s mainly seen around agricultural and livestock industries and occupations but can be found in wildlife populations.” Mr Gregory said while case numbers were relatively low in the region, there had been some community concern over perceived hotspots. “We have seen numbers group around certain areas in the Shoalhaven like Sanctuary Point, although there have been some cases in the southern Illawarra,” he said. “We have done environmental sampling at different locations – of kangaroo and bandicoot droppings — but no positive results have been found.” Humans usually get infected by inhaling bacteria-carrying dust contaminated by animal urine, feces or birth products. “Those at higher risk of infection include abattoir and meat workers; farmers and shearers; stockyard workers and animal transporters; veterinarians and agriculture college staff and students,” Mr Gregory said. “Horticulturists or gardeners may also be concerned if there’s a lot of wildlife in the area, as activities like lawn mowing may put them at risk.”

74 people killed by Q-Fever outbreak in Netherlands dating to 2007; thousands sickened

The official death toll of people affected by Q-Fever since the outbreak in 2007 now stands at 74, an increase of 26 since the number was last updated, NU.nl reports.

q.feverThe reason for the increase in deaths can be attributed to patients still carrying the live bacteria after the 2007 outbreak. The disease has symptoms of fever, headache, muscle aches and a decreased heart rate, among other things.

According to Annemieke de Groot, managing director of foundation Q-support, it is still important for doctors to remain alert and be able to recognize the symptoms. The foundation will explain the increased death toll at a conference at the Brabant provincial house in Den Bosch on June 20th.

The Q-Fever outbreak in the Netherlands in 2007 is considered one of the largest outbreak of this disease in the world. Thousands of people in the Netherlands fell ill. The disease is usually transmitted from animals to humans.

Q Fever outbreak in Australia linked to goat dairy farm

Landline can now reveal at least 24 people have contracted Q fever during an ongoing outbreak on a Victorian goat dairy farm. While the farm owners and health authorities seem to have stemmed the flow of people falling ill, they have not been able to stop the spread of the disease among the animals. Prue Adams reports.

q.fever.goats.austPRUE ADAMS, REPORTER: There’s a picture perfect quality to this farmland near Ballarat. Lambs at foot, bluestone buildings and at this time of year, golden canola. It’s a region that also boasts one of the biggest dairy goat farms in the country. The only clue to an underlying problem here are the warnings on the front gate.

SANDY CAMERON, GOAT FARM OWNER: The first thing is we’ve had to restrict access to the property, signs up saying “Don’t Enter”. Of course, being in the country, people are fairly used to ignoring signs, so then we – you’ve actually got to try and enforce that.

(Present) When Landline caught up with the Camerons in 1997, they were only producing sheep milk and cheese. Later that year, they got into goats. And now, in addition to milking thousands of sheep, they also milk 5,000 goats twice daily. This is a big enterprise with three dairies and employing 100 staff. Four years ago, some of those employees started getting sick.

SANDY CAMERON: In 2011, we had a few people get Q fever, including our daughter, but we didn’t know it was Q fever. Even though they went to doctors, we didn’t know what was going on. It was late-2012 before one of the staff had it diagnosed as Q fever. In hindsight we realised it was during 2012 was the main incidence of staff being infected.

SIMON FIRESTONE, UNIVERSITY OF MELBOURNE: It was sounding very significant from the start. So historically in Victoria, the Health Department receives notifications of about 30 cases of Q fever a year, and in one week, they’d five notified associated with the one farm property. So, yeah, that was an outbreak. That was clearly an outbreak smacking us in the face.

PRUE ADAMS: In 2013, Dr Simon Firestone, a senior veterinary lecturer at Melbourne University, was one of several authorities notified.

SIMON FIRESTONE: It’s the largest farm-associated outbreak in Australia’s history. So we’ve had large abattoir-associated outbreaks and a large single outbreak where there were 25 cases previously at a saleyard in South Australia in 2004. But, yeah, at 24 cases, this is – this is the largest by far of any of the single farm-associated outbreaks and then, as with all of these, there would be cases that have gone undiagnosed.

And Keith Richards gets blood transfusions in Switzerland (not): Five sickened with Q fever after sheep cell injections

ABC News reports five Americans came down with an unusual illness after traveling to Germany for a controversial treatment involving injections with sheep cells, health officials reported Wednesday.

a-human-q-fever-cluster-linked-to-a-sheep-farm-in-lavaux-switzerland-4-638The treatment is not permitted in the United States. The five New York residents received the “live cell therapy” in May last year. About a week later, they developed fever, fatigue and other symptoms of a dangerous bacterial illness called Q fever.

Two told investigators that they were part of a group that, for the last five years, had traveled to Germany twice a year for the injections. They said they get them to improve their health and vitality. There is no published clinical proof the treatments work, health officials say.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Wednesday released a report on the outbreak, which included a Canadian case — another medical tourist who got the treatment in Germany at about the same time. The four women and two men ranged in age from 59 to 83.

Three of the six recovered. But three others were still experiencing symptoms more than nine months later, health officials said.

Live or fresh cell therapy involves injecting people with fetal cells from sheep. It’s sometimes offered as an anti-aging therapy, but also has been touted as a treatment for conditions ranging from impotence to migraines to liver disease.

Q Fever Epidemic in Hungary

We investigated a Q fever outbreak with human patients showing high fever, respiratory tract symptoms, headache and retrosternal pain in southern Hungary in the spring and summer of 2013. Seventy human cases were confirmed by analysing their serum and blood samples with micro-immunofluorescence test and real-time PCR.

q.fever.jul.14The source of infection was a merino sheep flock of 450 ewes, in which 44.6% (25/56) seropositivity was detected by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Coxiella burnetii DNA was detected by real-time PCR in the milk of four of 20 individuals and in two thirds (41/65) of the manure samples. The multispacer sequence typing examination of C. burnetii DNA revealed sequence type 18 in one human sample and two manure samples from the sheep flock. The multilocus variable-number tandem repeat analysis pattern of the sheep and human strains were also almost identical, 4/5-9-3-3-0-5 (Ms23-Ms24-Ms27-Ms28-Ms33-Ms34). It is hypothesised that dried manure and maternal fluid contaminated with C. burnetii was dispersed by the wind from the sheep farm towards the local inhabitants. The manure was eliminated in June and the farm was disinfected in July. The outbreak ended at the end of July 2013.

Gonzalo Erdozain: eight cases of Q fever in two states not related for now

In what seems to be two unrelated outbreaks of Q fever, five people fell ill in Washington and three in Michigan. The Washington outbreak was caused by infected goats – officials believe the pathogen infected the five people via contaminated dust particles.

Three women in Michigan fell ill after consuming raw cow milk from their dairy herd share program from a Livingston County farm.

Humans in general are at risk of zoonotic infection, but children (especially under the age of 5), pregnant women, the elderly, and immunocompromised people are at a higher risk.

Q fever is not common; this is the first reported Michigan case in 20 years and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control reports that around 3 per cent of the healthy U.S. population and 10-20 per cent of persons in high-risk occupations (veterinarians, farmers, etc.) have antibodies to C. burnetii, suggesting past exposure. More frequent pathogens associated with animal-human contact and raw milk consumption are E. coli O157, Salmonella, Cryptosporidium and Campylobacter. For more info of the many types of zoonotic diseases that have been linked to animal-human contact outbreaks at petting zoos/farms, and raw milk consumption, visit our tables,

http://bites.ksu.edu/rawmilk and

http://bites.ksu.edu/petting-zoos-outbreaks.