Published Date: 2009-09-08 17:00:03
Subject: PRO/AH/EDR> Q fever - Netherlands (07)
Archive Number: 20090908.3169
Q FEVER - NETHERLANDS (07)
A ProMED-mail post
ProMED-mail is a program of the
International Society for Infectious Diseases
Date: Wed 2 Sep 2009
Source: NRC Handelsblad [edited]
Some experts say Q fever, which has already killed 5 people in the
Netherlands, is not getting enough attention compared to pandemic
influenza, which has so far killed 2 people in the Netherlands.
Some experts think the silence about Q fever, which can cause
permanent heart problems, is misguided. "It is almost as if it is
being hushed up to protect the agricultural and tourism industries,"
said retired professor of medicine Ton Maassen. "There should be
transparent communication about this, especially for people who have
a low resistance because they are HIV-positive or have recently
Maassen himself has given up on bicycle trips in the countryside of
North Brabant, a province in the south of the Netherlands. North
Brabant has a high concentration of sheep and goat farms, which the
authorities say are the source of Q fever. The disease first surfaced
in 2007, but the agriculture ministry said it won't know exactly
which farms are infected before the end of 2009.
There are no plans to exterminate entire farms as was done for
diseases like classical swine fever or foot-and-mouth disease.
Neither will the ministry name the infected farms, said Peter de
Leeuw, the chief veterinary officer at the ministry. Instead the
farmers themselves will be asked to present a plan for making their
Spores of the bacteria can survive for a long time and can be carried
by the wind. Because of its persistency, the US Center for Disease
Control and Prevention has called it a possible means of biological
warfare or terror.
Until now the only indication of the presence of Q fever at a farm
has been an unusually high number of spontaneous miscarriages among
goat or sheep. This would prompt an inspection of the farm in
question. "But we know there must be many infected farms out there
that we don't know about," said Van Steenbergen.
It is hoped that a new test, in which the milk coming from farms is
tested for traces of the bacteria, will lead to the discovery of as
many as a 100 more farms. The ministry hopes to counter the disease
through compulsory vaccination, the controlled processing of manure
and checks on animal transports.
[Byline: Hans van der Lugt]
[One major point missed in this posting is that influenza can spread
rapidly from person-to-person and therefore can cause major pandemics
whereas Q fever is not spread from person-to-person. - Mod.LL]