Gastrointestinal & Zoonoses

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Gastrointestinal & Zoonoses

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Epidemiology

The natural reservoir for Coxiella burnetii is a number of animal species, particularly sheep, cattle, goats, dogs, cats, wild rodents, birds and ticks, in which infection is usually asymptomatic, although it can cause abortion in sheep. Aerosols are the most important means of transmission to humans and infection is usually acquired through close exposure to infected animals or to wind-borne aerosols. People involved with sheep flocks at lambing time are at increased risk of exposure. Person to person transmission is very uncommon. Males are more likely to be infected than females.

Main clinical features

Infection may be asymptomatic or present as a self-limiting febrile illness (fatigue, chills, headaches and sweats) of 2 – 14 days duration. However, more severe, chronic complications can follow such as, pneumonia, hepatitis, endocarditis and/or neurological symptoms.

Incubation period

Varies between 14 and 39 days (average 20 days).

Surveillance

Voluntary laboratory reports.

Annual Surveillance Tables