Western NSW Local Health District (WNSWLHD), Manager Communicable Diseases and Immunisation Susan Turcato, is strongly urging farmers and people who work with livestock to get vaccinated against Q Fever to guard against being unable to work due to prolonged illness.
Q Fever is a bacterial infection carried by livestock that can lead to chronic lethargy that may last for several months. Susan said a single dose vaccine is recommended for people who work in high-risk occupations, as well as for people aged 15 years and over who could be exposed to Q Fever.
There have been an alarming 51 confirmed cases of Q Fever reported in WNSWLHD so far this year, the symptoms of which, mainly chronic fatigue, can affect individuals and families, as well as impact their ability to work.
“With all the pressure on farmers and livestock handlers with the recent drought and the COVID-19 pandemic, the last thing we want is for them to be needlessly drained of energy for months on end after being struck down by Q Fever,” Susan said.
People become infected when they breathe in dust particles contaminated by infected animal secretions, which can lead to high fevers and chills, sweating, severe headaches, muscle and joint pains and extreme fatigue.
Susan is urging anyone who might be at risk to consult a GP who can screen for Q Fever and vaccinate them, if needed. “We want people to proactively talk to their doctor about Q Fever,” she said.
The NSW Government is investing around $1 million between 2018 and 2022 to help protect farmers and other people in rural areas who work with animals from Q Fever.
NSW Health is currently delivering an education campaign targeting people in occupations and locations at higher risk of Q Fever.