Q Fever Has Same Symptoms As the Flu
COLUMBIA - A high fever, chills, sore throat, sweats. Those sound like symptoms of the flu, right? One researcher at the University of Missouri wants you to think twice about whether or not you're actually suffering from the flu this winter season. Guoquan Zhang, an assistant professor at the College of Veterinary Medicine, is working on a vaccine for Q fever.
While there's never been a documented outbreak in the United States, the recent rash of the disease in the Netherlands has prompted the CDC to issue travel advisory to Americans planning on visiting the country. Infection can only be confirmed by a blood test, and doctors use the anti-biotic doxycycline to treat the disease effectively--though without treatment, the infection usually takes several months to run its course. It's fatal in only about 1 to 2 percent of cases.
Of particular concern to Missouri is the ability of Q fever to take hold in livestock, and then tranfer to humans. The Netherlands ordered a slaughter of 35,000 milk goats during the epidemic in 2009.
Unlike the flu, there's no vaccine available in the United States approved by the FDA. The vaccine available around the world causes a severe reaction if the Q fever pathogen is already present.
Zhang's research focuses on creating a vaccine that doesn't cause a skin reaction. He's using the University of Missouri's Regional Biocontainment Lab to conduct part of his research. The secure facility in Columbia houses a team of pathogen-fighting researchers. The CDC lists Q fever as a potential biological weapon.
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