The Discovery of Q Fever and Its Cause.


Emeritus Professor of Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle Washington. Electronic address: [Email]


An outbreak of a febrile illness among workers in a slaughterhouse in Brisbane, Australia led E.H. Derrick to discover a new infection, which he labeled Q fever. Almost simultaneously, investigators in Montana discovered a new organism in ticks that caused fever in guinea pigs. Eventually, investigators found that the Q fever and tick microbes were identical. Outbreaks of Q fever occurred in laboratories, and epidemics of it affected both Axis and Allied troops in Europe during World War II, but it was only afterwards that an explanation emerged about what the major reservoir of the organism was and how infection was most commonly transmitted to animals and humans.


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