Coxiella burnetii is an obligate intracellular Gram-negative coccobacillus bacterium that is known to be the main pathogen that causes Q fever in mammals and humans.
Q fever is a global disease caused by the pathogen Coxiella burnetii. Without any symptoms and a low dosage that leads to infection, the disease can go unnoticed until serious health consequences begin to present themselves. Because of its natural high resistance to harsh environmental conditions, including dessication, heat, and antibacterial compounds, the transmission of Q fever to other organisms is very effective through contaminated air, the main mode of transmission.
The method in which humans get infected is by infected animals such as sheep, cattle, goat, dogs, and cats. These infected animals can produce excretions through urine, feces, and milk that contain infectious dosages of this pathogenic bacterium, which can be dangerously mistakenly inhaled, consumed, or be in contact with. The bacterium can be isolated in the placentas of infected animals and can cause abortions due to inflammation. Not just livestock and domestic animals can get infected. Even fish and rodents can acquire Q fever as well.
Humans who are exposed to or handle infected animals, such as farmers or veterinarians, have a higher risk of infection and then the disease develops. Typically, there are no obvious symptoms after infection. Only about 50% of people who are infected show signs of the disease. Symptoms similar to the flu may appear, but it is not specific and not always diagnosed as Q fever. The disease takes the form of pneumonia or hepatitis commonly. As the infection becomes more serious, chronic Q fever develops. Endocarditis, inflammation of the aortic heart valves, has been associated with the chronic complications of the disease. The survival rate is higher for those who do not suffer from chronic Q fever.