Epidemiology and Infection

Review Article

Q fever

The Q fever epidemic in The Netherlands: history, onset, response and reflection

H. I. J. ROESTa1 c1, J. J. H. C. TILBURGa2, W. VAN DER HOEKa3, P. VELLEMAa4, F. G. VAN ZIJDERVELDa1, C. H. W. KLAASSENa2 and D. RAOULTa5

a1 Department of Bacteriology and TSEs, Central Veterinary Institute of Wageningen UR, Lelystad, The Netherlands

a2 Department of Medical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases, Canisius Wilhelmina Hospital, Nijmegen, The Netherlands

a3 Centre for Infectious Disease Control, National Institute for Public Health and the Environment, Bilthoven, The Netherlands

a4 Department of Small Ruminant Health, Animal Health Service, Deventer, The Netherlands

a5 URM, Université de la Mediterranée, CNRS-IRD UMR 6236, Faculté de Medecine, Marseille, France

SUMMARY

The 2007–2009 human Q fever epidemic in The Netherlands attracted attention due to its magnitude and duration. The current epidemic and the historical background of Q fever in The Netherlands are reviewed according to national and international publications. Seroprevalence studies suggest that Q fever was endemic in The Netherlands several decades before the disease was diagnosed in dairy goats and dairy sheep. This was in 2005 and the increase in humans started in 2007. Q fever abortions were registered on 30 dairy goat and dairy sheep farms between 2005 and 2009. A total of 3523 human cases were notified between 2007 and 2009. Proximity to aborting small ruminants and high numbers of susceptible humans are probably the main causes of the human Q fever outbreak in The Netherlands. In general good monitoring and surveillance systems are necessary to assess the real magnitude of Q fever.

(Accepted September 01 2010)

(Online publication October 05 2010)

Correspondence:

c1 Author for correspondence: Mr H. I. J. Roest, Department of Bacteriology and TSEs, Central Veterinary Institute of Wageningen UR, Edelhertweg 15, 8219 PH Lelystad, The Netherlands. (Email: hendrikjan.roest@wur.nl)

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