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Q Fever is a disease of humans and livestock caused by Coxiella burnetii bacterial infection.

A new research project will develop a better understanding of factors influencing the risk of Q Fever spread within and between Australian ruminant livestock enterprises, and develop national guidelines for an emergency response plan to be used in the event of Q Fever outbreak in humans.

Coxiella burnetii is extremely resistant to environmental conditions and one of the most contagious organisms known to man. A single organism is sufficient to cause infection.

The most common route of infection is inhalation of contaminated dust, contact with contaminated milk, meat and wool, and close contact with infected animals.

A Q Fever outbreak similar to that which occurred in The Netherlands in 2007-2010 would be catastrophic in terms of human health and for Australia’s dairy goat industry.

The Taking the ‘Q’ (query) out of Q Fever: developing a better understanding of the drivers of Q Fever spread in farmed ruminants project will improve understanding of Q Fever reservoirs, amplification and transmission pathways to help direct biosecurity resources more efficiently. In turn, this will reduce the burden of an extremely debilitating disease in rural communities.

This project will also provide knowledge that can be used to develop policies that will limit the likelihood of a large and prolonged Q Fever outbreak in Australia. This will help to maintain Australia’s position as an exporter of premium agricultural produce.

Project funding

This project is supported by funding from the Australian Government Department of Agriculture and Water Resources as part of its Rural R&D for Profit program.

Under the Rural R&D for Profit program, AgriFutures Australia received:

Grant funding: $514,500

Cash contributions: $735,000

In-kind contributions: $367,800

Total project resources: $1,617,300

Project partners

  • University of Melbourne
  • Meredith Dairy
  • University of Queensland
  • Australian Rickettsial Research Laboratory
  • University of Sydney
  • University of Adelaide
  • Charles Sturt University
  • Goat Veterinary Consultancies (Goatvetoz)
  • Victorian Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources (DEDJTR)
  • Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (QDAF).


Michael Beer
General Manager Business Development
02 6923 6915
0429 566 730

Related Resources

Q Fever Prevention: A guide for livestock handlers

Taking the Q (query) out of Q fever, this handy fact sheet provides on overview on everything you need to know about preventing and managing Q fever.