Stockyard workers are just one of several professions at risk of Q fever.
Stockyard workers are just one of several professions at risk of Q fever. Erica Murree

Organisation fights for eradication of agricultural disease

ONE of the many causes the Queensland Country Women's Association is putting its more than 4000-strong membership support behind is the eradication of Q fever.

Q fever, or Query fever, caused by the bacterium of Coxiella burnetii, is a disease prevalent within agriculture industries.

Humans can contract the disease from animals such as cattle, sheep goats, kangaroos and range of other animals domestic and wild. The bacteria is also found in ticks.

Infection is passed by breathing in droplets of dust contaminated by the faeces, urine or the birthing fluids of animals carrying the disease.

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Farm workers are at high-risk for Q fever but other professions include abattoir workers, shearers, wool sorters, pelt processors, stockyard workers, veterinarians and other professionals who work with animals on a regular basis.

Symptoms of the Q fever range from a slight flu-like illness to more severe conditions such as pneumonia.

A safe and effective vaccine for the disease is available but the incidence of the disease hits further afield than just Australia. Instances of Q fever have been marked globally in all countries with the exception of New Zealand.

There was a recent move for the QCWA to advocate to governments in regional Queensland for increased funding to educate medical practitioners in the identification, treatment and prevention of Q fever and to implement schemes to subsidise vaccines in high-risk areas.

QCWA state president Christine King said Q fever affected many families in Queensland.

"We are committed to educating and advocating in our communities for improved awareness as well as preventative measures."

Mackay branch president Robyn McFarlane agreed.

"We see cases of Q fever in our area and we really want to improve education, awareness of the risks and ideally, support prevention," she said.

Symptoms of Q fever

  • Fever and chills
  • Severe sweats
  • Severe headache (especially behind the eyes)
  • Muscle pain
  • Weakness and tiredness
  • Weight loss