Wilson Street Surgery will be offering testing for Q Fever in the coming weeks in response to a recent upsurge in cases of human infection across the region. Dr David Sutherland says that as a rural community in Braidwood “we’re at risk and the condition itself is a serious one.” Dr Sutherland said that “there’s a considerable awareness of the subject of Q Fever, but I’m not sure if people are aware of how common it is, particularly recently.”
Q Fever is the result of a bacterial infection, with most people becoming infected through breathing in infected aerosols or dust when working with infected animals, animal tissues, or animal products. While the main carriers of the disease are cattle, sheep and goats, other animals such as kangaroos, bandicoots, and domestic dogs and cats can also be infected.
According to veterinarian Kate Sawford “most often [Q Fever] doesn’t cause any clinical disease in animals,” but that infected animals “can shed the bacteria into their urine, faeces, milk, and foetal fluids with high concentrations being found in the placenta.”
The effects of Q Fever include tiredness, joint pains, muscle aches and pains that can go on for a variable period of time. However, Q Fever can lead on to chronic illness, putting sufferers at risk of heart and liver conditions and Chronic Fatigue.
Those most at risk are those who are in frequent contact with animals. This includes farmers and shearers, stockyard workers and animal transporters, abattoir and meat workers, and agriculture college staff and students. There are several ways at risk groups can reduce their chance of getting the disease, these include:
Dr Sutherland encouraged those at risk to be tested soon, while the surgery has testing facilities up and running. He also urged employers whose business involves stock to have their workers tested, saying “employers really have a legal responsibility to both have their workers tested and if necessary vaccinated.”
Wilson Street Surgery will hold free Q fever screening clinics on November 15, 22 and 29 from 8.00 to 11.00 am. People must be tested for previous exposure to Q fever before they can be vaccinated. Anyone who tests negative for previous exposure to Q fever will have the option of being vaccinated against the disease. The testing will be bulk billed. The cost of vaccination is $126 plus GST. Contact: 4842 1575.
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