Q Fever

Dermacentor marginatus (sheep tick) CDC Pub. Health Image Lib.

Q fever is caused by Coxiella burnetti (Cb) bacteria. Disease can be tick-borne, but most cases result from inhaling Cb-containing dust or eating or drinking contaminated food.  Cattle, sheep, and goats are the primary reservoirs.

Although CDC does not indicate it can be a tick-borne disease on its Q fever page, other entities including NORD (National Organization for Rare Disorders) do indicate it can be tick-transmitted. 1, 2,3  CDC’s Public health Image Library, however,  does contain a picture of the ornate sheep tick, Dermacentor marginatus, with portion of caption “This ixodid hard tick species is known to be a vector for the tick-borne encephalitis virus complex as well as the bacterium, Coxiella burnetti , the cause of the disease known as Q Fever. ” 4

The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, CDC,  indicates on its website that Coxiella burnetti has been previously weaponized for use in biological warfare and is considered a potential terrorist threat. 5

Symptoms include fever, severe headache, malaise, myalgia, chills and/or sweats, cough, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, chest pain, and may include endocarditis, encephalitis, pneumonia, hepatitis, splenomegaly. Acute symptoms include hepatitis and pneumonia or chronic endocarditis. IFA titers are used for diagnosis. Usually treated with doxycycline.  Chronic Q fever may be treated with doxycycline and hydroxychloroquine combination or other combinations. 

For More Information:

Citations for Q Fever to be a tick-borne disease



3 Stephen R. Graves et al, AJGP VOL. 49, NO. 12, DECEMBER 2020



 Citations for Coxiella burneti & biological warfare




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