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Eur Respir J. 2003 Apr;21(4):713-9.

Coxiella burnetii pneumonia.

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Dept of Medicine, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.


This report reviews the pulmonary and extrapulmonary manifestation of infections due to Coxiella burnetii. Q fever, a zoonosis, is due to infection with C. burnetii. This spore-forming microorganism is a small gram-negative coccobacillus that is an obligate intracellular parasite. The most common animal reservoirs are goats, cattle, sheep, cats, and occasionally dogs. The organism reaches high concentrations in the placenta of infected animals. Aerosolisation occurs at the time of parturition and infection follows inhalation of this aerosol. There are three distinct clinical syndromes of the acute form of the illness: nonspecific febrile illness, pneumonia, and hepatitis. The chronic form of Q fever is almost always endocarditis, but occasionally it is manifest as hepatitis, osteomyelitis or endovascular infection. The pneumonic form of the illness can range from very mild-to-severe pneumonia requiring assisted ventilation. Multiple round opacities are a common finding on chest radiography. Treatment with doxycycline or a fluoroquinolone is preferred. Susceptibility to macrolides is variable. In conclusion, Coxiella burnetii pneumonia should be considered when there is a suitable exposure history and when outbreaks of a pneumonic illness are being investigated.

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