Guides for Emergency Response: Biological Agent or Weapon: Q Fever
Guides for Emergency Response: Biological Agent or Weapon: Q Fever AGENT: Q fever is a zoonotic disease caused by a rickettsia, Coxiella burnetii. Th e most common animal reservoirs are sheep, cattle, and goats. Humans acquire Q fever by inhalation of particles contaminated with the organisms. A biological warfare or terrorist attack would cause disease similar to that occurring naturally. Q fever is a sudden feverish illness involving the respiratory system caused by the Rickettsia burnetii as a result of contact with infected animals, drinking infected raw milk, or ticks. Th ere is a high degree of Q fever in Australia but not in neighboring New Zealand. It makes a good biological weapon because it’s a high infectivity agent. Pneumonia is extremely common with Q fever, but patients generally recover.