Q fever - Coxiella Burnetii
By By Dr Mackie Hobson BSc(Agric),BVSc

Tuesday, 18th April 2017

Q fever,Coxiella burnetii, in Angora goats can potentially be associated with abortions and peri-natal deaths although the incidence is unknown and more research is required. The role of Q-fever in abortions is also uncertain as antibodies have been detected in goats aborting as well as those not aborting.


Coxiell burnetii (Photo wikipeadia)


How is Q-fever spread?

C.burneti ( classified as a rickettsia)  cycles between ticks and small mammals. The coxiella localise and multiply in the genital tract and udder. At birth large numbers of Coxiella are discharged in the fluids contaminating the environment. Susceptible goats can then also become infected by inhaling or ingestion. Coxiella is a zoonosis causing a fever in humans.

How common is the problem?

Although antibody titres may reflect a higher proportion of infected goats the incidence of abortion is low. Between 1981-87 Onderstepoort found C.burnetii in 1.7% of abortions in goats


Clinical signs:

The condition is usually subclinical but can rarely cause abortions. Rarely a low grade fever occurs. Abortions are more common in goats than sheep and abortions of up to 50% in a flock have been recorded.

  • Abortions (fully developed kids) and peri-natal deaths of kids
  • Ewes may not show any signs apart (just late abortions).


Post Mortem:

No PM lesions on the foetus can be found.



Impression smears of cotyledons of placenta

Serology to detect previous exposure



  • Tetracyclines are the drug of choice.
  • Tick control.

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