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Q fever is a bacterial zoonosis caused by Spain has the highest number of notified human cases in Europe. Small ruminants are a key reservoir for the pathogen, transmission from animals to humans is usually airborne.


We aimed at exploring temporal and spatial epidemiological patterns of sporadic and outbreak cases of Q fever in four Spanish regions with the highest number of notified cases.


We extracted data on Q fever cases in the Canary Islands, Basque Country, La Rioja and Navarre between 2016 and 2022 from the Spanish National Epidemiological Surveillance Network. We calculated standardised incidence ratios (SIR), spatial relative risks (sRR) and posterior probabilities (PP) utilising Besag-York-Mollié models.


There were 1,059 notifications, with a predominance of males aged 30–60 years. In Basque Country, La Rioja and Navarre area, 11 outbreaks were reported, while no in the Canary Islands. A seasonal increase in incidence rates was observed between March and June. In the Canary Islands, elevated sRR was seen in La Palma, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote and Fuerteventura. In Basque Country, La Rioja and Navarre area, the highest sRR was identified in the south of Biscay province.


Goats were the main source for humans in outbreaks reported in the literature. Seasonal increase may be related to the parturition season of small ruminants and specific environmental conditions. Local variations in sRR within these regions likely result from diverse environmental factors. Future One Health-oriented studies are essential to deepen our understanding of Q fever epidemiology.


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