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Q fever risk increases as drought continues

People living and working in rural areas are being warned to take steps to guard against Q fever as drought conditions persist and dust and high winds increase the risk of the disease spreading.

Q fever is a serious bacterial disease which infects livestock, especially cattle, sheep and goats. Other animals, including kangaroos and wallabies, can also be infected.

Infected animals generally do not get sick but can shed the bacteria in urine, faeces and milk, and in especially high numbers in birth products. People can become infected by inhaling the bacteria in dust and aerosols. The current dry and dusty conditions in parts of Queensland increase the Q fever risk.

Q fever can cause an influenza-like illness which in some people can be severe. Most people make a full recovery however it may take time to return to normal health. Some people develop post-Q fever fatigue syndrome which causes prolonged ill health and fatigue. Occasionally people may develop chronic infection that affects the heart, bones and joints. Q fever is also a risk for pregnant workers.

People who work with farm animals, wildlife and some domestic pets are particularly at risk. This includes cattle, sheep and goat farmers, dairy industry workers, shearers, wool classers, kangaroo shooters, livestock transporters, feedlot workers, staff and students of agricultural education programs and veterinarians and their staff.

Protect you and your workers against Q fever. Vaccination is the most reliable method and is recommended for people who work in, or intend to work in, high-risk occupations.

Further information

For more information, talk to your GP, visit the Worksafe website or contact Queensland Health.

To find a doctor who provides Q fever vaccination, visit the Q fever Register.