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Q fever is a zoonosis, included in category B of particularly dangerous infectious agents and as such merits careful surveillance and regular updating of the information about its distribution.


This observational retrospective study aimed to provide an overview of Q fever incidence in Bulgaria in the period 2011 to 2017.


Aggregated surveillance data from Bulgaria’s mandatory surveillance system, laboratory data on individual samples received at the National Reference Laboratory Rickettsiae and Cell Cultures and outbreak reports sent by the regional health authorities to the National Centre of Infectious and Parasitic Diseases, were used in this analysis. Cases were described by year, region, age group and most commonly identified risk behaviours.


A total of 139 confirmed cases were reported in the study period (average annual incidence: 0.27 cases/100,000 inhabitants). No seasonality or trend in reported cases was observed. Cases were mostly sporadic, with two small outbreaks in 2017. Identified risk behaviours among cases were occupational exposure and consumption of milk and dairy products, although exposure data were incomplete. The male/female ratio was 1.4. The identification and resolution of the two rural outbreaks in 2017 with a total of 18 cases involved good practices: active case finding and collaboration between public health and veterinary authorities.


Between 2011 and 2017, Bulgaria retained low Q fever incidence, mostly sporadic cases and two small outbreaks. Occupational exposure and consumption of milk and dairy products were the most often reported likely exposures among cases. The outbreak investigations demonstrate the application of good control practices.


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