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Prevalence of markers of Q fever exposure in the Kimberley, Western Australia

  • Year: 2003
  • Author: Bulsara, MK; Mak, DB; Fry, DF
  • Journal Name: Communicable Diseases Intelligence Quarterly Report
  • Journal Number: Vol. 27, No. 2
  • Country: Australia
  • State/Region: Western Australia

Although a large pastoral industry exists in the Kimberley region of Western Australia, there is no previously published information about the prevalence of immune markers for Q fever exposure in this region's population. This paper identifies the prevalence of, and factors associated with, positive immune markers of Q fever, and reports the uptake of Q fever vaccination by eligible subjects in the Kimberley region of Western Australia. Data regarding Q fever risk factors were obtained using a standard questionnaire. Immunity and previous exposure to Q fever were assessed using both serology and a skin test, in accordance with accepted protocol. Fifty nine subjects underwent Q fever prevaccination testing. The prevalence of a positive skin and/or blood test, indicating past exposure was 66 per cent (95% CI 52%-78%). After controlling for age and having lived on a farm at any time, employment in the pastoral industry was the only factor significantly associated with being skin and/or blood test positive (OR=24.6, 95% CI 3.0-204). Acceptance of vaccination was high, with 75 per cent of eligible subjects undergoing vaccination. The high prevalence of immune markers for Q fever in the Kimberley in this sample indicates that the disease is present in the region, despite the last recorded case being in 1986. Ensuring that Q fever vaccination is readily accessible to pastoralists, abattoir workers and other at-risk groups is a challenge that needs to be met by these industries and health services of the region.

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