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Trials starting for new Q fever vaccine

A new and improved Q Fever vaccine is progressing to pre-clinical trials following a $1.87 million injection from the Australian Government. A study will investigate the dose-effectiveness of the novel vaccine compared with the current vaccine before the trials.

Announcing the move, Federal Regional Health Minister Mark Coulton labelled Q fever a major issue for regional Australians.

The bacteria that causes Q Fever is spread from animals, mainly cattle, sheep and goats, and native wildlife such as kangaroos, and can travel over distance in dry, windy conditions. Q fever can cause a severe flu-like illness, and in some people can cause chronic and debilitating illness.

National Farmers Federation CEO Tony Mahar said the trial was a significant step towards a more efficient and easier-to-access Q Fever vaccine.

“The disease is most commonly contracted by those working with livestock on property or in abattoirs, with times of drought considered particularly dangerous,” Mr Mahar said.

“There is no more important priority for agriculture than protecting the health and wellbeing of our people. Q Fever is an all-too-common illness affecting farmers and others employed in rural and livestock-focussed industries, impacting people, in some cases, for many years.”

Minister Coulton said the Government was keen to reduce the impact of Q fever and had been subsidising supply of the existing vaccine for many years.

“I’m excited by the potential of this new generation vaccine being developed by an Australian research partnership. It could be a breakthrough for not only Australian farmers and meat workers, but rural communities around the world,” he said.

“One of the potential advantages of the new vaccine is that, unlike the existing vaccine, you don’t need a test before you have it. This will eliminate extra costs and time in getting vaccinated, which discourages people from getting the protection they need, even though they may be at high risk of exposure.”

Workplace Health and Safety Queensland recently warned Queenslanders about the risks of contracting Q fever from mowing large grass areas that are densely populated with kangaroos and wallabies. See also the separate story in this edition of Rural eSAFE on Q fever and livestock.

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