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We describe a large Q fever outbreak reported in Spain, including 108 cases, 53 with pneumonia and 27 requiring hospitalisations. The first cases were detected in February 2021 among rock climbers visiting a cave in Bizkaia, and the last case was detected in October 2021. Most cases were notified after the Easter holiday (April–May 2021). More males (63.9%) than females (36.1%) were infected (median ages: 42 (1–68) and 39 years (6–61), respectively). We detected by PCR in faecal, dust and/or aerosol samples taken inside the cave in March 2021, and in dust and aerosol samples collected between March 2021 and February 2023. from dust samples were cultured on Vero cells, showing viability for 24 months. Based on serological and genotyping data, goats sheltering in the cave were the most likely source of infection. The cave was closed on 29 April 2021, movements of goats and sheep in the area were restricted (March–July 2021), and the animals were vaccinated in October 2021. Investigation of Q fever outbreaks requires a multidisciplinary One Health approach as these outbreaks can occur in unexpected places like natural sites where animals are present.


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