Population screening for chronic Q-fever seven years after a major outbreak

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Introduction: From 2007 through 2010, the Netherlands experienced a large Q-fever epidemic, with 4,107 notifications. The most serious complication of Q-fever is chronic Q-fever. Method: In 2014, we contacted all 2,161 adult inhabitants of the first village in the Netherlands affected by the Q-fever epidemic and offered to test for antibodies against Coxiella burnetii using immunofluorescence assay (IFA) to screen for chronic infections and assess whether large-scale population screening elsewhere is warranted. Results: Of the 1,517 participants, 33.8% were IFA-positive. Six IFA-positive participants had an IgG phase I titer 1:512. Two of these six participants were previously diagnosed with chronic Q-fever. Chronic infection was diagnosed in one of the other four participants after clinical examination. Conclusions: Seven years after the initial outbreak, seroprevalence remains high, but the yield of screening the general population for chronic Q-fever is low. A policy of screening known high-risk groups for chronic Q-fever in outbreak areas directly following an outbreak might be more efficient than population screening. A cost-effectiveness analysis should also be performed before initiating a population screening program for chronic Q-fever.




Morroy, G., Van Der Hoek, W., Albers, J., Coutinho, R. A., Bleeker-Rovers, C. P., & Schneeberger, P. M. (2015). Population screening for chronic Q-fever seven years after a major outbreak. PLoS ONE, 10(7). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0131777

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