Confirmed Case of Q fever (Coxiella burnetii) in Colorado

February 5, 2018

A dairy goat residing in Rio Grande County was diagnosed with Coxiella burnetii infection.  This case was diagnosed by Colorado State University, Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory in Fort Collins on February 1, 2018. 

Q fever is a reportable disease in Colorado (to the State Veterinarian’s Office and Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment).  It is also on the OIE list of reportable diseases. 

In ruminants, the infection is usually subclinical but can cause anorexia and late term abortions.  Reports have implicated C burnetii as a cause of infertility and sporadic abortion with necrotizing placentitis in ruminants.  New evidence has shown C burnetii may also be associated with subclinical mastitis among dairy cows. 

The infected goat was on a premises that has a shareholder program for raw milk and raw, aged cheese.  All shareholders have been notified of the diagnosis and precautions are being taken to prevent further transmission of disease. 

Zoonotic Risk:

Q fever is a zoonotic bacterial infection associated primarily with parturient ruminants although domestic animals, such as cats and a variety of wild animals, have been identified as sources of human infection.  The zoonotic infection in people associated with C burnetii is widely known as Q fever.  The greatest risk of transmission occurs at parturition by inhalation, ingestion, or direct contact with birth fluids or placenta.  The organism is also shed in milk, urine, and feces.

C burnetii is highly infectious, and a single organism can reportedly cause infection via the aerosol route in people.  Transmission may also occur by consumption of unpasteurized milk.  Q fever occurs more frequently in persons who have occupational contact with high-risk species (including farmers and veterinarians). 

Workers should use adequate personal protective equipment to protect against exposure.  Individuals who have artificial heart valves are at particular risk, as well as anyone who is significantly immunocompromised.  C burnetii has been associated with human abortions, and pregnant women should take precautions to prevent exposure. 


If you have questions regarding animal health, please contact the State Veterinarian’s Office at (303)869-9130

If you have questions regarding human health, please contact the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment at (303)692-2700