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Q fever in The Netherlands: the role of local environmental conditions

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The Netherlands is facing a Q fever epidemic in which dairy goats are implicated. People living close to an affected farm have an increased risk. However, no human cases were reported around a number of farms with serious Q fever problems. To assess the role of local environmental conditions which may add to the transmission or risk of Q fever, we gathered datasets on vegetation, land use, soil characteristics, and weather conditions in 5 km areas around infected farms. Areas without transmission had a higher vegetation density and relatively shallow groundwater conditions. Vegetation and soil moisture are relevant factors in the transmission of Coxiella burnetii from infected farms to humans, by reducing the amount of dust available for dispersion of the bacteria. The findings suggest that intensive goat and sheep husbandry should be avoided in areas that are characterized by a combination of arable land with deep groundwater and little vegetation.
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Keywords: Coxiella burnetii; Q fever; The Netherlands; environment; goats

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: National Institute for Public Health and the Environment, Bilthoven 2: FutureWater, Wageningen 3: Animal Health Service, Deventer, The Netherlands

Publication date: December 1, 2011

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