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Lancet Infect Dis. 2010 Aug;10(8):527-35. doi: 10.1016/S1473-3099(10)70135-3. Epub 2010 Jul 14.

Long-term outcome of Q fever endocarditis: a 26-year personal survey.

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Université de la Méditerranée, Marseille, France.



Q fever endocarditis caused by Coxiella burnetii is a potentially fatal disease characterised by a chronic evolution. To assess the long-term outcome and identify prognostic factors for mortality, surgical treatment, and serological changes in Q fever endocarditis, we did a retrospective study in the French National Referral Centre.


Patients included were diagnosed with Q fever endocarditis at our centre from May, 1983, to June, 2006, and followed up for a minimum of 3 years for each patient, history and clinical characteristics were recorded with a standardised questionnaire. Prognostic factors associated with death, surgery, serological cure, and serological relapse were assessed by Cox regression analysis. Excised heart valve analysis was assessed according to duration of treatment.


104 patients were identified for inclusion in the study, although one was lost to follow-up; median follow-up was 100 months (range 37-310 months). 18 months of treatment was sufficient to sterilise the valves of all the patients except three, and 2 years of treatment sterilised all valves except one. In a multivariate Cox regression analysis, the major determinants associated with mortality were age (hazard ratio 1.11, 95% CI 1.05-1.18, p=0.003), stroke at diagnosis (7.09, 2.00-25.10, p=0.001), endocarditis on a prosthetic valve (6.04, 1.47-24.80, p=0.044), an absence of a four-times decrease of phase I IgG and IgA at 1 year (5.69, 1.00-32.22, p=0.049), or the presence of phase II IgM at 1 year (12.08, 3.11-46.85, p=0.005). Surgery was associated with heart failure (2.68, 1.21-5.94, p=0.015) or a cardiac abscess (4.71, 1.64-13.50, p=0.004). The determinants of poor serological outcome were male sex (0.47, 0.26-0.86, p=0.014), a high level of phase I IgG (0.65, 0.45-0.95, p=0.027), and a delay in the start of treatment with hydroxychloroquine (0.20, 0.04-0.91, p=0.037). Factors associated with relapse were endocarditis on a prosthetic valve (21.3, 2.05-221.86, p=0.01) or treatment duration less than 18 months (9.69, 1.08-86.72, p=0.042).


The optimum duration of treatment with doxycycline and hydroxychloroquine in Q fever endocarditis is 18 months for native valves and 24 months for prosthetic valves. This duration should be extended only in the absence of favourable serological outcomes. Patients should be serologically monitored for at least 5 years because of the risk of relapse.


French National Referral Centre for Q Fever.

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