Workplace Health and Safety Queensland has seen a recent increase in Q fever notifications. If you transport livestock, there may be a risk of Q fever. However, there are steps you can take to protect yourself against infection.
The current dry and dusty conditions in parts of Queensland may increase the Q fever risk as the bacteria can survive for a long time in soil and dust.
Q fever is an infectious disease that infects livestock, native wildlife and companion animals. People usually become infected from cattle, sheep, goats and kangaroos. Infected animals remain well but can shed the bacteria in their urine, faeces, milk and in especially high numbers in birth products.
People usually become infected with Q fever by breathing in aerosols and dust contaminated with the urine, faeces and birth fluids of infected animals. Many infected people have no symptoms. People who do become sick often have a severe flu-like illness.
While most people make a full recovery and become immune to future Q fever infection, it may take time to return to normal health. Some people may develop long term health issues such as chronic fatigue or chronic infection that affects the heart, bones or joints. Q fever is also a risk for pregnant women.
If you get sick, it is important to tell your doctor about your work so that you can be tested for Q fever if indicated as early diagnosis and treatment can speed up recovery.
If you are diagnosed with Q fever and this is related to your work, your employer must notify Workplace Health and Safety Queensland.
How I can protect myself against Q fever?
The best way to protect yourself is to be vaccinated against Q fever, and vaccination is recommended for those at occupational risk. You must be screened and tested before being vaccinated against Q fever. Check the Q fever register to find a doctor that provides Q fever vaccination services.
High risk workplaces should have a Q fever vaccination program to protect their workers.
If you are vaccinated against Q fever or have previously been infected with Q fever you can register with the Q fever register and you will be provided with a Q fever card which you can show to your employer or when visiting workplaces like abattoirs and sales yards to show that you are immune to Q fever.