Q&A planned on Q fever
Nov 21, 2011: - An information night on Q fever is aimed at both educating the public and furthering the research being conducted at James Cook University and Townsville Hospital on the disease.
The research has found that Queensland has the highest number of Q fever cases in Australia, with a significant number in residential areas around Townsville.
Q fever is an infectious disease caused by the organism Coxiella burnettii, causing flu-like symptoms or chronic disease like hepatitis and liver infection.
The research is being led by Dr Robert Norton, Director of Pathology from The Townsville Hospital in conjunction with Dr Brenda Govan, and Associate Professor Natkunam Ketheesan, from JCU’s School of Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences.
“Traditionally everyone just thought you are only at risk if you’re employed at the Meatworks or have some association with cattle or sheep,” Dr Brenda Govan, who is Head of Head of Microbiology & Immunology at the School, said.
“What Dr Norton started to see at the hospital in Townsville was that people were coming in with the disease although they had no association with cattle - so he realised there was something changing.”
Dr Norton said that it was possible that Q fever might have contaminated the soil as well as native mammals and domestic pets due to Townsville’s close association with the cattle industry.
The information night will be held on December 1 to educate the public about Q fever while volunteers will be asked to complete a questionnaire and provide a blood sample.
“We are interested in taking blood samples from any of the general public who would like to donate, as we can use the samples as negative controls in the study as we don’t yet have a good blood test for the disease, and this is what the study is trying to address,” Dr Govan said.
“We may also detect additional unrecognised cases and possible environmental reservoirs for Q fever in Townsville,” Dr Norton said.
The study aims to find the sources of exposure in patients and to develop a new diagnostic test to enable a rapid diagnosis of Q fever.
“It can be difficult to diagnose and testing can take weeks to complete, a new diagnostic test will help to speed the diagnosis and treatment of Q fever, to decrease the impact of this disease on patients,” Dr Norton said.
Event: Q fever Information Night Date: Thursday, December 1. Time: 6pm – 7pm
Place: Building 45, Medical School Lecture Theatre, JCU Townsville.
Contact: Dr Robert Norton (07) 4796 1111 Dr Brenda Govan (07) 4781 5607
Issued: November 21, 2011