Coxiella burnetii Q fever pneumonia

Pneumonia is one manifestion of acute Q fever. Patients with Q fever pneumonia have fewer complications than those with mycoplasmal or legionella pneumonia. Aerosols from newborn animals, contaminated wool, or the placentas of infected mammals can infect humans. Infection occurs after an incubation period of 7 to 14 days. The first target cell is the alveolar macrophage.

The primary lysosome fuses with the phagosome. The acid pH activates the enzymes of C. burnetii, which multiplies and is able to undergo sporogenesis. Following cell lysis, spores are able to survive for a long time (more than a month on meat in cold storage, and more than 40 months in skim milk at room temperature). C. burnetii undergoes phase variation: the phase I form is virulent and the phase II form is avirulent. During the acute infection, host defenses consist of antibody mainly directed against phase II antigen and a cellular immune response resulting in immunity. However, the micro-organism can still be isolated even after clinical cure.

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