Q fever a serious threat to agri-industry – DA

Romina Cabrera - The Philippine Star
Q fever a serious threat to agri-industry � DA
Agriculture Secretary Francisco Tiu Laurel Jr. on November 6, 2023.
STAR / Jesse Bustos

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Agriculture (DA) said that Query or Q fever could be a serious threat to the local agri-industry following the first reported case in the country.

“This is a serious threat to our industry. Secretary Francisco Tiu Laurel mentioned Q fever be taken seriously because even if it is a mild zoonotic disease, it is still zoonotic and can be passed to other people and our ruminants,” DA spokesman Arnel De Mesa said over radio dzBB.

De Mesa added they are coordinating with the Department of Health (DOH) as humans, who have been in contact with the goats, should be traced.

“We have already depopulated all the goats through the Bureau of Animal Industry. We are now conducting contact tracing for all possible contacts of animals and humans,” he said.

There were 66 goats that were part of the imported goats from the US but De Mesa said they are also tracing other animals within the 500-meter radius in the surveillance area for depopulation.

A total of 94 imported goats were culled to prevent the spread of the disease.

He noted this is the first Q fever case in the country and has to be reported to the World Organization for Animal Health as the goats have already left the government facility prior to the positive results.

He said they are investigating possible liabilities of the importer of the goats, which arrived in the country in January from the US.

They are eyeing possible blacklisting of the importer if found to be negligent.

The imported goats were transferred to a state-run breeding farm in Sta. Cruz, Marinduque in February after spending a month in quarantine in Pampanga.

Meanwhile, the DOH has warned the public not to go near animals suspected to have Q fever while a study to find out risks to humans is being conducted.

“If exposure is suspected, please consult with the nearest hospital or clinic,” the DOH said in a statement.

At the same time, the health department said there are ongoing efforts to check its effects on humans.

Q fever is caused by the bacteria Coxiella burnetti. It is a usually mild zoonotic disease found in animals that can be transmitted to humans, especially among farmers and animal handlers who are in frequent contact with infected animals.

Human to human transmission is rare.

According to the DOH, symptoms in humans develop within two to three weeks after exposure, and are commonly non-specific and mild.

“They include fever, fatigue, headache, cough, nausea and vomiting. Q fever can be cured by antibiotics that are widely available in the Philippines,” the DOH added.

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