Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Vector Borne Zoonotic Dis. 2002 Fall;2(3):179-91.

Q fever in humans and animals in the United States.

Author information

Viral and Rickettsial Zoonoses Branch, Division of Viral and Rickettsial Diseases, National Center for Infectious Diseases, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia 30333, USA.


Coxiella burnetii, the etiologic agent of Q fever, is a worldwide zoonotic pathogen. Although Q fever is present in the United States, little is known about its current incidence or geographic distribution in either humans or animals. Published reports of national disease surveillance, individual cases, outbreak investigations, and serologic surveys were reviewed to better characterize Q fever epidemiology in the United States. In national disease surveillance reports for 1948-1986, 1,396 human cases were reported from almost every state. Among published individual case reports and outbreak investigations, occupational exposures (research facilities, farm environments, slaughterhouses) were commonly reported, and sheep were most frequently implicated as a possible source of infection. In studies conducted on specific groups, livestock handlers had a significantly higher prevalence of antibodies to C. burnetii than did persons with no known risk. Animal studies showed wide variation in seroprevalence, with goats having a significantly higher average seroprevalence (41.6%) than sheep (16.5%) or cattle (3.4%). Evidence of antibody to C. burnetii was reported among various wild-animal species, including coyotes, foxes, rodents, skunks, raccoons, rabbits, deer, and birds. This literature review suggests that C. burnetii is enzootic among ruminants and wild animals throughout much of the United States and that there is widespread human exposure to this pathogen. Sheep and goats appear to be a more important risk for human infection in the United States than cattle or wild animals, and research studies examining the natural history and transmission risk of Q fever in sheep and goats in this country should be encouraged.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for Mary Ann Liebert, Inc.
    Loading ...
    Support Center