When troops deploy overseas they are given several rounds of vaccinations and pills to prevent illness while fighting in a foreign country, but none of these methods prevent Q fever. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration call this condition an “emerging infectious disease among U.S. soldiers serving in Iraq and worldwide.”
Q fever causes high fever, headache, nausea and vomiting and comes from a bacteria found in farm animals. If diagnosed early, most people with Q fever fully recover after treatment with appropriate antibiotics. Failure to treat an infection can, however, result in serious chronic illness. That is why the Department of Defense wanted a test created to diagnose the illness in the field.
A company out of Utah created this new test which can detect Q fever in a blood sample within four hours.
“It’s important that the FDA protect our troops from biothreats using innovative diagnostics,” said Jeffrey Shuren, M.D., director of the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health. “Q Fever bacteria is considered a biothreat agent in part due to the fact that fewer than 10 organisms need to be inhaled to cause infection and its ability to withstand open environments.”
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention website, the numbers of cases of Q fever that have been reported to CDC have increased since the disease became reportable, from 17 cases with onset in 2000, to 167 cases with onset in 2007.
Although most people with acute Q fever infection recover, others may experience serious illness with complications that may include pneumonia and a form hepatitis.
There is a medication prescribed by doctors to get rid of the illness, and if it is administered early a patient’s fever typically begins to subside within 72 hours.