This infection is caused by the bacterium Coxiella burnetii which occurs in both wild and domesticated animals. Coxiella burnetii is enzootic in sheep, goats, and cattle in nearly all parts of the world, particularly in hot and dry areas. The organism has been associated with anorexia and abortion in domestic animals. Ixodid ticks of the genera Ixodes and Amblyomma are important vectors of C. burnetii, particularly in nature. Human infection, however, is primarily through inhalation of infective material and by consumption of unpasteurized milk and milk products from cattle, sheep, and goats. Pneumonia is the main symptom in the human disease, but occasionally the disease is very severe with hepatitis or endocarditis.

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