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article imageGoat flu in Netherlands sickens over 2,000 humans, kills six

By Steven Z.K. Nickels     Dec 16, 2009 in Health
An outbreak of "Q fever" in the Netherlands has sickened more than 2,000 people and killed at least six. Dutch officials say they plan to "slaughter all pregnant infected goats" to help prevent the spread of disease.
An outbreak of "goat flu," officially known as Q fever, has been blamed for sickening more than 2,000 people and killing at least six in the Netherlands this year. Radio Netherlands Worldwide (RNO) reports that experts have recommended the "wholesale slaughter of pregnant goats on farms where disease has been reported." Transmission through the birthing process of infected animals is said to be a primary risk of release of the disease's bacteria.
RNO reports that symptoms of the disease primarily resemble the flu, including severe headaches, shivers, perspiration, aching muscles, diarrhea and a slow pulse rate. Symptoms usually subside after about two weeks with the acute variety of Q fever, but a more chronic strain can last up to two years, with the primary symptom being fatigue.
Many animals can carry the disease, but the primary transmitter of the disease to humans in the Netherlands has been goats. The Chinese news agency Xinhua is reporting that Dutch government officials say they plan to "slaughter all pregnant infected goats," to help prevent the disease. Dutch government spokesman Thijs Von Son speculated that the high incidence of Q fever in the Netherlands may be caused by the large number of animals on each farm, combined with the high density of the Dutch human population.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) says that Q fever, or coxiella burnelii, is under-reported throughout the world so accurate numbers of infection are difficult to determine. The disease has not been seen in any significant numbers in the U.S., as of yet. Cattle, sheep and goats are the "primary reservoirs of Q fever," but disease has been seen in other livestock and domesticated animals. The disease usually does not cause clinical disease in these animals but abortion in sheep and goats has been linked to the disease.
The CDC also says that the bacteria organisms secreted in milk, urine and feces of infected animals are primary risks but the highest number of organisms are secreted during the birthing process of the animals in the amniotic fluid and placenta. The CDC says that the disease can be treated primarily with the antibiotic, Doxycycline.
Those at primary risk of contracting Q fever would be those working in close proximity to infected animals. This would include sheep and dairy workers, meat processing workers, livestock farmers, veterinarians and researchers at facilities housing sheep.
More about Goats, Flu, Fever, Netherlands, CDC
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