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A windy day in a sheep saleyard: an outbreak of Q fever in rural South Australia

  • B. A. O'CONNOR (a1), I. G. TRIBE (a2) and R. GIVNEY (a2) (a3)

Summary

In December 2004, the Department of Human Services investigated an outbreak of Q fever in South Australia. A case-control study tested an association between attending a local saleyard and human illness. A case was defined as a person with clinical illness and evidence of seroconversion or high phase II IgM. Controls were selected from a database of community controls matched on sex, age group and postcode. Matched analysis of the first 15 cases with 45 controls indicated that contracting Q fever was associated with attending the saleyard on one particular day (adjusted odds ratio 15·3, 95% confidence interval 1·7–undefined, P = 0·014). Saleyard conditions were windy and conducive for airborne dispersal of contaminated particles. In total, 25 cases were detected. Of these, 22 cases had attended a local saleyard on the same day. This outbreak suggests cases were probably infected by a single exposure at a saleyard from infected sheep and dust. The investigation resulted in an increase in the local uptake of Q fever vaccination and extension of the Australian national vaccination programme.

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Copyright

Corresponding author

* Author for correspondence: R. Givney, Microbiology, Pathology North, Locked Bag 1 Hunter Regional Mail Centre NSW 2310, Australia. (Email: rodney.givney@hnehealth.nsw.gov.au)

References

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