Mid North Coast Farmers are Being Urged to Get Vaccinated for Q Fever

Farmers of all types of livestock are urged to get the recommended Q Fever vaccine.

 

MID North Coast Local Health District (MNCLHD) is strongly urging farmers and people who work with livestock to get vaccinated against Q fever to guard against being unable to work due to prolonged illness.

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A spokesperson for Mid North Coast Local Health District said the district, which covers Laurieton to Woolgoolga, is tracking fairly well this year in relation to previous years’ infection rates with twelve cases of Q fever to date in 2020.

This compares with twenty eight cases in 2019, thirty in 2018, twenty eight in 2017 and nineteen in 2016.

Q fever is a bacterial infection carried by animals – such as cows, sheep and goats – and can lead to chronic lethargy that may last for several months.

North Coast Public Health Unit Director Paul Corben said a single dose vaccine is recommended for people who work in high-risk occupations, as well as for people aged 15 years and over who could be exposed to Q fever.

“The risk of ongoing health issues, such as chronic fatigue, can really hit individuals and families hard,” Mr Corben said.

“With all the pressure on farmers and livestock handlers with the drought and COVID-19, the last thing we want is for them to be needlessly drained of energy for months on end after being struck down by Q fever.”

People become infected when they breathe in dust particles contaminated by infected animal secretions, which can lead to high fevers and chills, sweating, severe headaches, muscle and joint pains and extreme fatigue.

Mr Corben urged anyone who might be at risk to consult a GP who can screen for Q fever and vaccinate them, if needed.

“We want people to proactively talk to their doctor about Q fever,” he said.

Children who help with farm animals may also be at risk, but the vaccine is not recommended for children younger than 15 years.

Mr Corben said many of the behaviours adopted during COVID-19 can help keep people safe.

“Vigilant hand washing, protective masks, protective clothing and removing clothes worn for chores outside before entering the family home are behaviours to be reinforced because they can protect those who cannot be vaccinated,” he said.

The NSW Government is investing around $1 million between 2018 and 2022 to help protect farmers and other people in rural areas who work with animals from Q fever.

 

By Sandra MOON

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