In response to the recent interest in Q fever, Yass Local Land Services has arranged for the rural community in Yass and surrounding districts to have the opportunity to be tested for exposure. A similar program was run by Local Land Services in the Braidwood area last year.
Q fever is an illness caused by the bacterium Coxiella burnetii; it is spread to humans from infected animals. Infected animals do not show any signs of illness.
People usually get infected by breathing in the bacteria when near infected animals, animal tissues, or animal products. The bacteria survive for long periods in the environment as they are resistant to heat and drying. Work clothes, bedding material and other objects in contact with animals can become contaminated and spread the infection to people who may not have direct contact with animals. The main carriers of the disease are farm animals such as cattle, sheep and goats but other animals such as kangaroos, bandicoots, domestic pets such as dogs and cats can also be infected. Pigs are not known to carry the disease.
Some infected people have no or few symptoms. Common symptoms of Q fever infection include; fevers, chills and sweats, severe headaches, muscle and joint pain as well as extreme fatigue (tiredness).
Symptoms improve slowly with treatment. Most people require time off work to recover, and some take several months to return to work. Most people eventually make a full recovery and become immune to repeat infections. If untreated, people can develop long lasting infections.
Those at the greatest risk of contracting the disease include: farmers and shearers; stockyard workers and animal transporters; abattoir and meat workers; veterinarians, veterinary nurses and students; agriculture college staff and students; and wildlife carers.
Prevention is key and there is a vaccine available against Q fever. Exposure testing is available at My Medical Practice in Laidlaw Street Yass, with the view to vaccinate those who are both unexposed (negative) and at increased risk.
During March, the testing will be bulk billed for Medicare card holders, while the vaccine will be at cost plus GST. Please phone 6226 6262 for an appointment.