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Q fever outbreaks in Poland during 2005–2011

Tomasz Chmielewski, Stanisława Tylewska-Wierzbanowska

(Laboratory of Rickettsiae, Chlamydiae and Spirochetes, National Institute of Public Health - National Institute of Hygiene, Warsaw, Poland)

Med Sci Monit 2013; 19:1073-1079

DOI: 10.12659/MSM.889947


Background: Q fever is a health problem affecting humans and animals worldwide. In Poland, previous studies have pointed to 2 sources of outbreaks of the disease: the importation of infected animals and their products, and natural domestic foci. In the last decade, 5 outbreaks have occurred in cattle farms in south Poland in Malopolskie, Podkarpackie, Opolskie, and Silesian provinces. The aim of this study was to characterize the Q fever foci in Poland.
Material and Methods: A total of 279 individuals were included. Levels of serum IgM and IgG antibodies to phase I and II C. burnetii antigens were assayed by indirect immunofluorescence method. Bacterial DNA from all specimens were detected with PCR with primer pairs specific to the htpAB-associated repetitive element, and amplicons were sequenced.
Results: Infection was recognized in 67 individuals out of 279 tested in all foci. Twenty-five individuals presented clinical symptoms of acute Q fever. DNA of C. burnetii was found in 8 human blood samples obtained from 3 farm workers and 5 family members.
Conclusions: The described outbreaks demonstrate that the main source of human infections in Poland is infected cattle.

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