Cause and effects of Q fever
There was an outbreak of the zoonotic disease Q fever in the Netherlands in 2007-2011. Tens of thousands of people were infected with the Coxiella burnetii bacterium. Not everyone experienced symptoms, but those who did developed acute Q fever, the symptoms of which include pneumonia and headache, or flu-like symptoms. The pandemic is now behind us, but there are still people with persistent Q fever symptoms and problems, including Q fever fatigue syndrome (QFS) and chronic Q fever.
The long-term effects of Q fever
The long-term effects of this infectious disease, like Q fever fatigue syndrome (QFS) and chronic Q fever, have caused a lot of concern in the healthcare profession, as they include severe fatigue, concentration and memory problems, muscle and joint pain and cardiovascular problems/shortness of breath (this last only in the case of chronic Q fever). It also has a major effect on participation in society and the workforce, with patients having to reduce their hours, or unable to work at all. Little is known about QFS, for instance, so more research is needed.
The ‘Q fever and its long-term effects research agenda’ (only in Dutch) was presented to representatives of patients, the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport and ZonMw on 3 September 2021. The goal of the agenda is to consider all aspects of life that are impacted by the disease – physical and mental health, social life, work and income – so that researchers, doctors and those treating patients can identify and address the appropriate knowledge questions, and ensure that patients with QFS and chronic Q fever receive better help. One good example of a project we are funding is a study into optimising treatment of chronic Q fever.