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Q fever is a zoonotic disease caused by Coxiella burnetii. Its interest as a potential biological weapon stems from the fact that an aerosol of very few organisms could infect humans. Another route of transmission of C. burnetii could be through adding it to the food supply. Nevertheless, C. burnetii is considered to be one of the less suitable candidate agents for use in a bioterrorist attack; the incubation is long, many infections are inapparent and the mortality is low. In the case of an intentional release of C. burnetii by a terrorist, clinical presentation would be similar to naturally occurring disease. It may be asymptomatic, acute, normally accompanied by pneumonia or hepatitis, or chronic, usually manifested as endocarditis. Most cases of acute Q fever are asymptomatic and resolve spontaneously without specific treatment. Nevertheless, treatment can shorten the duration of illness and decrease the risk of complications such as endocarditis. Post-exposure prophylaxis is recommended after the exposure in the case of a bioterrorist attack.


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