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Hastings and Prince Edward Public Health

Q Fever FAQs

What is Q Fever?

Q fever is an infectious disease caused by a rickettsia organism called Coxiella burnetii. Cattle, sheep and goats are the primary reservoirs. Infection has been noted in a wide variety of other animals, including other breeds of livestock and domesticated pets, as well as ticks and birds. It does not usually cause symptoms in these animals, although abortion in goats and sheep has been linked to this germ.

Human infection usually occurs by inhalation of dust infected with contaminated animal materials like dried placental material, birth fluids, and excreta of infected herd animals.

What are the symptoms?

Only about one-half of all people infected with this germ show signs of illness. Most acute cases of Q fever begin with sudden onset of one or more of the following: high fever, severe headache, general malaise, muscle soreness, confusion, sore throat, chills, sweats, non-productive cough, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and chest pain. Fever usually lasts for one to two weeks. Weight loss can occur and persist for some time.

Up to one-half of patients who have symptoms from this germ will develop pneumonia, while a majority of patients will have abnormal liver function tests.

Chronic Q fever, an infection that persists for more than six months, is uncommon but is a much more serious disease. Patients who have had acute Q fever may develop the chronic form as soon as one year, or as long as 20 years, after initial infection. Most patients become ill within two to three weeks after exposure. Those who recover fully from infection may possess lifelong immunity against re-infection.

How is it treated?

Antibiotics will be provided by your physician for treatment.


Ministry of Health and Long Term Care, Diseases: Q Fever, January 2003.

Q Fever Fact Sheet printable pdf

Need More Information About Q Fever FAQs?

Talk to your health care provider or call our Communicable Disease Program at 613-966-5500 or 1-800-267-2803, ext. 349.

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All individuals ≥ 5 yrs of age are eligible to receive a COVID-19 bivalent booster dose 6 months after previous COVID-19 vaccine.

Appointments can be booked through the provincial vaccine booking site, or by calling 1-833-943-3900 from 8 am to 8 pm, 7 days a week.  


For the most up to date information on current provincial guidelines and advice in case of exposure, visit

The Ministry of Health has launched a toll-free line as an additional resource to help answer questions from the public regarding evolving COVID-19 testing and isolation guidance. The line can be reached at 1-888-777-0730, and is available from 8 am to 6 pm, 7 days a week. Beginning April 3, hours for this line will change to Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.