Research of the Q fever outbreak in the Netherlands during the period 2005-2012 has taught us much about this disease. Doctoral Candidate René van den Brom has studied the veterinary aspects of this outbreak. With the new knowledge gained about Q fever, are there any measures that can be taken to prevent further outbreaks? Is it possible to better control the disease?
The results of serological research and studies of milk tank samples confirm the role that dairy goat farms play as the most probable cause of the Q fever outbreak. Milk tank samples were used to declare farms free of Coxiella burnetii, the bacteria that causes Q fever, but the results were then also used to differentiate between farms with animals that secreted the bacteria and those that did not.
The role of goat manure distributed throughout the country seems to have played a minor role in the outbreak of Q fever in humans. Vaccination of goats has proven to be an extremely effective measure for preventing the secretion of C. burnetii. Several veterinarians working in the farm animal sector became infected with the bacteria, but this only seldom led to diagnosis of the symptoms of Q fever. In conclusion, it is not known what quantitative effect each of the individual measures that were implemented had on the outbreak.