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J Public Health Med. 1997 Sep;19(3):324-7.

Prevalence of Q fever in a rural practice.

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Department of Library and Information Studies, University of Wales, Aberystwyth.



Q fever is a world-wide condition caused by the rickettsia Coxiella burnetii. It appears more prevalent in agrarian communities and may have serious sequelae.


A descriptive, cross-sectional, observational study using a randomly selected group of the adult working practice population in a rural practice in West Wales was devised. An immunofluorescence test, which identified past infection, was used to look for associations between C. burnetii seropositivity and farm-related or social activities, and to compare the findings with those of other studies. An attempt was made to establish a clinical profile for the illness Q fever.


Twenty-one subjects were found to be seropositive to C. burnetii. No definite consistent clinical features were identified. Farming was undoubtedly a risk factor for the disease, maybe with other related factors also important. There was a possibility that alcohol had a protective effect. No sinister sequelae were described.


Q fever occurs more frequently in farmers than in non-farmers, but was less common than previously thought. Is Q fever accurately described in medical textbooks? A case is made for a more co-operative approach between primary carers and epidemiologists in the study of illnesses in populations.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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