Earth Watch Report  –  Biological  Hazards

File:Coxiella burnetii, the bacteria that causes Q Fever.jpg

A dry fracture of a Vero cell exposing the contents of a vacuole where Coxiella burnetii are busy growing. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)

Author  :  National Institutes of Health (NIH)


Biological Hazard Spain Basque Country, Bilbao Damage level Details




Biological Hazard in Spain on Thursday, 10 April, 2014 at 03:07 (03:07 AM) UTC.

According to the Provincial Council of Bizkaia, 8 workers from the landfill of Monte Anaiz, in the municipal district of Bilbao, are suffering from Q fever related to the presence of remains of cattle in the waste. In addition to the 8 confirmed cases, 25 are pending study. An initial focus of the outbreak has been recently traced to the Mechanical Biological Treatment Plant at Monte Anaiz and a 2nd cluster is located in Berriatua, where up to 10 people may have been infected. The outbreak is due to the fact that animal remains not intended for human consumption (byproducts such as heads, or goat and sheep hides) repeatedly enter the processing plant mixed in with urban waste. The symptoms of Q fever are similar to those of a flu, although sometimes it also affects the liver. The Basque Government and the Provincial Government of Bizkaia, in a coordinated manner, have adopted measures to control the outbreak. Extreme precaution is being taken and diagnostic tests have been applied to all staff and subcontractors as a preventive measure. Authorities are trying to identify the origin of these products, a difficult task, because the animal remains have come in garbage bags from which the identification tags have been removed.
Biohazard name: Q Fever
Biohazard level: 3/4 Hight
Biohazard desc.: Bacteria and viruses that can cause severe to fatal disease in humans, but for which vaccines or other treatments exist, such as anthrax, West Nile virus, Venezuelan equine encephalitis, SARS virus, variola virus (smallpox), tuberculosis, typhus, Rift Valley fever, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, yellow fever, and malaria. Among parasites Plasmodium falciparum, which causes Malaria, and Trypanosoma cruzi, which causes trypanosomiasis, also come under this level.
Status: confirmed



File:Pneumonia x-ray.jpg

Combination of two x-rays found on the two websites FDA website with normal chest x-ray CDC website documenting Q fever pneumonia All editing performed by me and released into public domain


Signs and symptoms

Incubation period is usually two to three weeks.[8] The most common manifestation is mild flu-like symptoms with abrupt onset of fever, malaise, profuse perspiration, severe headache, myalgia (muscle pain), joint pain, loss of appetite, upper respiratory problems, dry cough, pleuritic pain, chills, confusion and gastrointestinal symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. The fever lasts approximately seven to 14 days.[citation needed]

Approximately half of infected individuals exhibit no symptoms.[8]

During its course, the disease can progress to an atypical pneumonia, which can result in a life-threatening acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), whereby such symptoms usually occur during the first four to five days of infection.[citation needed]

Less often, Q fever causes (granulomatous) hepatitis, which may be asymptomatic or becomes symptomatic with malaise, fever, liver enlargement (hepatomegaly) and pain in the right upper quadrant of the abdomen. Whereas transaminase values are often elevated, jaundice is uncommon. Retinal vasculitis is a rare manifestation of Q fever.[9]

The chronic form of Q fever is virtually identical to inflammation of the inner lining of the heart (endocarditis),[10] which can occur months or decades following the infection. It is usually fatal if untreated. However, with appropriate treatment, the mortality falls to around 10%.

Clinical signs in animals

Cattle, goats and sheep are most commonly infected, and can serve as a reservoir for the bacteria. Q fever is a well recognized cause of abortions in ruminants and in pets. C. burnetii infection in dairy cattle has been well documented and its association with reproductive problems in these animals has been reported in Canada, USA, Cyprus, France, Hungary, Japan, Switzerland and West Germany.[11] For instance, in a study published in 2008,[12]a significant association has been shown between the herds’ seropositivity and typical clinical signs of Q Fever observed such as abortion, stillbirth, weak calves and repeat breeding. Moreover, experimental inoculation of C. burnetii in cattle induced not only respiratory disorders and cardiac failures (myocarditis) but also frequent abortions and irregular repeat breedings.[13]


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