Q Fever Facts That Might Attack Your Goat

Who doesn’t want to have happy and healthy animals fellow? Whether we keep them for sweet company or profit, we are responsible for their well-being, right? That is apply to all animals, including our beloved goat. Happy goat makes a happy owner/farmer, and vice versa. Well, some of you might wonder, “goats as pets?” Yes, you can keep goats as pets, even having them in your backyard. But if you are more interested in farming goat, you may want to check this one first. Now back to the topic, sure we want our goats to be happy and healthy, but sometimes shit just happens. One of the disease that might strike on goats is this one called Q fever. Fancy name but quite troublesome. Without further ado, here’s Q fever facts that might attack your goat.

What is Q fever?

I don’t know about you, but once I heard the name I wondered why Q fever? Turn out, the word “Q” here stands for “Query” that was applied at a time when the causative agent was unknown. But fear not, the cause of Q fever is already known which is a bacterium called Coxiella burnetii. 

It is a zoonosis 

Zoonosis means the disease can be transmited from animals to humans. Yup, the most important Q fever facts that might attack your goat, is that it could attacking us, too. The transmission could happen when we breath in the bacteria that is in the air or dust, and direct contact with the bodily fluid from infected goats, that is including their urine, feces, vaginal mucus, or semen. But the troublesome part of this disease is we may be infected even when we don’t have a direct contact with the diseased goat which is by drinking unpasteurized milk. Quite worrying, right? 

It has various symptoms

While most goats have no symptoms, it may cause abortion to an infected pregnant doe. On the other hand, Q fever in human ranges from asymptomatic to severe and require a medical diagnosis. This is the trickiest Q fever fact that might attack your goat. Some people will have no symptom at all, and other will have a flu-like symptom (high fever, headaches, coughing, and nausea), making it hard to distinguish. Other symptoms including malaise, abdominal pain, chills, muscle pain, chest pain, vomiting and diarrhea. 

More serious symptoms can occurs in pregnant women, the elderly, people with weakened immune systems or previous heart problems. Serious cases of Q fever can lead to chronic illness like hepatitis or endocarditis if left untreated. Take note!

Don’t shrug it off when you experience the symptoms. Especially if you are included on the people at risk below.

People at risk

Most of the people who works with goats and live around them are at high-risk of Q fever. Though, the high-risk never make us love them less, right? 

People that has high-risk infection includes farmer, veterinarians, butcher, animal transporter, stockyard workers, etc. Everyone who visits workplaces in which Q fever may be present like farm and slaughterhouse are also at risk of infection. Other people who has risk of infected include family members of those in high-risk occupations and people living on or near a high-risk industry.

3 ways of prevention

As we cannot avoid goats at all, this 3 ways of prevention maybe is the most useful Q fever fact that might attack your goat.

The most effective way to prevent Q fever is by vaccinating Q-vax. It is highly recommended if you are going to have farm or intending to work in high-risk occupations. 

Second way to prevent Q fever is by maintaining cleanliness our environments and good hygiene practices in dealing with goats. If you are not immune—whether from vaccination or past infection—pay attention to the measures below to reduce the risk of infection:

  • wash hands and arms thoroughly with soap after any contact with your goats
  • wear a properly fitted P2 mask and gloves everytime you work near in the areas where the are goats and when handling the goats. P2 mask can filter out very fine particles from the air when worn correctly, and so reduce the risk of airborne transmission of Q fever
  • wash your goats urine, feces, blood and other body fluids from equipment and surfaces if possible
  • remove and wash dirty clothing, coveralls and boots you wore during high-risk activities in outdoor wash areas. Do not take those items home to reduce the risk of infection to your family. If you do take them home, make sure to collect and wash them separately, and that should only be handled by those immune to Q fever.

And the last way to prevent Q fever is to make sure to consume the pasteurized milk and its products only. That is if you just want to enjoy delicious goat products safely. 

The diagnosis

Q fever can be diagnosed with serology, whicn means looking for an antibody response rather than looking for the organism itself. The antibody response is discovered through examination of a blood sample from the patient.

The treatment

We all hope the preventions will work just well, but in case the worst happens, of course we have to know how to treat it properly. Luckily, antibiotics is effective for an acute Q fever, even though it should be given in consultation with an infectious diseases specialist. The commonly used antibiotics for Q fever are doxycycline, tetracycline, chloramphenicol, ciprofloxacin, ofloxacin, and hydroxychloroquine. The more difficult chronic Q fever to treat can require up to four years of treatment with doxycycline and quinolones or doxycycline with hydroxychloroquine. Thus, the sooner treatment indeed will show the better results, also reducing the risk of long-term complications.

Futhermore, Q fever in pregnancy is particularly difficult to treat as antibiotics doxycycline and ciprofloxacin are contraindicated in pregnancy. Thankfully there is other preferred treatment, which is five weeks of co-trimoxazole.