Q Fever alert; no human illness yet


VALLEY – A number of failed pregnancies in goats at a local dairy prompted testing that confirmed the presence of Coxiella burnetii bacteria, which can cause Q Fever in humans, according to a Monday release from the San Luis Valley Public Health Partnership.

Local public health officials are working with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment to assess several people with known exposure to this relatively common livestock illness. Raw milk products from the dairy are distributed throughout the Valley, Pagosa Springs, Gunnison, and Crested Butte. To date, no human illness has been identified.

The bacteria that causes Q fever primarily affects sheep, goats, and cattle, but it can also cause illness in humans. Some people exposed to it never get sick, but others may develop flu-like symptoms including fever, chills, fatigue, and muscle pain. People can get infected by breathing in contaminated dust, as well as through contact with infected animal feces, urine, raw milk, and birth products. Pregnant women and those with heart conditions are at higher risk for complications. A very small percentage of people who are infected may develop a more serious chronic form of the illness.

The Colorado Department of Agriculture and San Luis Valley Public Health Partnership are also involved in helping the dairy make sure that all proper precautions and actions are taken to prevent spreading the bacteria. People who are experiencing symptoms can contact their doctors. For more information contact your local public health agency or go to www.cdc.gov/qfever