Hong Kong CHP Investigates Q Fever Case

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The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health and the health authority of Macau are jointly investigating a confirmed case of Q fever , a zoonotic infection, involving a 52-year-old-man living in Macau .

The patient presented with prolonged fever on June 11 and received treatment in Macau. He came to Hong Kong and was admitted to the Queen Mary Hospital on July 28. He is now in stable condition.

Paired serum samples of the patient showed elevated Coxiella burnetii antibodies. His clinical picture and serology results were compatible with those of acute Q fever.

Investigations revealed that the patient stayed indoor while working and had no history of visiting zoo, farm or rural areas during the incubation period. His family members are asymptomatic.

This is the first case of Q fever reported to CHP in 2008. In 2004, 2005 and 2006, there were one , three and two confirmed cases respectively. In 2007, no case was reported.

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Q fever is caused by Coxiella burnetii, usually affecting meat workers and farmers. It usually presents with fever, chills, headache and weakness. Pneumonia may occur in serious cases.

The disease is usually contracted through inhalation of excreta particles from infected ticks and animals (for example: sheep, cattle, cats, dogs, rodents and birds). It can also spread by direct contact with infected animals or consuming polluted water and unpasteurised dairy products.

Members of the public and travellers should adopt the following measures to reduce the risk of infection:

- avoid direct or indirect contact with livestock and poultries ;

- choose hotel or inn with satisfactory hygienic conditions;

- observe good personal and food hygiene, drink boiled water and consume pasteurised dairy products only.

Anyone returning from travel to a Q fever affected area who falls sick should seek medical attention immediately.

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