What we know and more importantly - what we don't know
In early 2011, we had never heard of Q Fever. Then there was a out break of Q Fever in Washington State, and a lot of people were very concerned; including us.
What we now think is that Q Fever is something that we don't want in our herd, just like CL, CAE and Johnes or any other disease.
Q Fever is everywhere! It has even been found in seals in Alaska and mammals in Florida, and pretty much everywhere in between and extending all around the world.
Could we end up with Q fever? Of course we could. Would we purposely expose our animals to an active case of Q Fever? Of course not.
However, we are not worried about having our animals attend public events with other herds that have experienced Q Fever and who have dealt with the situation in an ethical and aggressive manner. We expect a farm that has had the misfortune of experiencing Q Fever, or any other transmittable disease, to bring only negative animals to public events,
and we believe any reputable breeder would do the same.
And what about all the herds or individual animals at the event that have not tested?
The only way to know if a herd has been exposed to Q Fever is through extensive testing of every animal;
which in most cases is prohibitively expensive unless a problem has been detected.
We believe that when a breeder experiences an unfortunate set of circumstances, such as experiencing CL, CAE, Johne's, Q Fever or any devastating disease or event, if that breeder does their best to practice excellent herd management and deals with the situation in an ethical manner, they deserve our support. Especially if they use the situation to educate others. We try to remember that it could be us walking in those shoes, and try to treat others as we would like to be treated.
We have tested a portion of our herd and all have been negative.
In the future, if we find that we have encountered Q Fever, we will continue to practice good herdsmanship, enforce normal biosecurity measures and deal with the situation.
The first documented case of Q Fever was in Australia during the 1930's.
There is a vaccine available, but not approved for use in the United States.
"Q fever has been found worldwide, except in New Zealand"
"Sheep, goats and cattle are the most common domestic animal reservoirs. Dogs, cats, rabbits, horses, pigs, camels, buffalo, rodents, pigeons, geese and other fowl may carry C. burnetii. Antibodies to C. burnetii have been found in badgers, coyotes, raccoons, opossums, badgers, jackrabbits, feral pigs, black bears and musk ox. Ticks and wild birds can also harbor this organism." quoted from http://www.state.nj.us/agriculture/divisions/ah/diseases/qfever.html
Q Fever is rare in the United States. Usually less than 200 people get Q Fever each year. Many do not have direct animal contact or occupational exposure.
Q-fever is not uncommon in livestock and animal testing has limitations; therefore culling of animals based on serologic (blood) testing is not recommended as this will NOT ensure a negative herd. A positive Q-fever blood test does not mean that the animal is actively shedding the bacteria and a negative Q-fever blood test does not mean the animal is not currently shedding the bacteria. Blood tests reflect the level of past exposure at the herd level and should not be used to determine the fate of individual animals. quoted from http://agr.wa.gov/FoodAnimal/AnimalHealth/Diseases/QFeverManagementPractices.pdf
Always talk to your vet if you have concerns about Q Fever. We believe a close working relationship with your vet is the secret to a healthy herd.
LINKS FOR FURTHER INFORMATION ABOUT Q FEVER: