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Lancet Infect Dis. 2002 Nov;2(11):686-91.

Q fever in children.

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Unité des Rickettsies, Faculté de Médecine, Université de la Méditerranée, Marseille, France.


Q fever is a zoonosis caused by Coxiella burnetii. Farm animals and pets are the main reservoirs of infection, and transmission to human beings is mainly accomplished through inhalation of contaminated aerosols. This illness is associated with a wide clinical spectrum, from asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic seroconversion to fatal disease. Q fever in children has been rarely reported. We reviewed published work on this topic. Seroepidemiological studies show that children are frequently exposed to C burnetii. However, children are less frequently symptomatic than adults following infection, and may have milder diseases. Using the standard diagnostic criteria, we identified 46 published paediatric cases only. Self-limited febrile illness and pneumonia were the most common manifestations of acute Q fever. Chronic disease manifested as endocarditis and osteomyelitis. A history of exposure to possible sources of infection with C burnetii in a child with a compatible infectious syndrome should prompt testing for Q fever. Studies are required to determine the spectrum of morbidity associated with Q fever during childhood.

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