Goat Flu (Q Fever)

By | June 10, 2022

Goat flu is one of the zoonoses. This disease, which can be transmitted from animals to humans, is also called Q fever. Goat flu is a notifiable disease that occurs worldwide except in New Zealand and Antarctica. Goat flu should not be confused with the childhood disease goat peter .

What is goat flu?

Despite being called the flu, goat flu is not caused by viruses. Rather, they are bacteria called Coxiella burnettii, which belong to the same order as the causative agents of Legionnaires’ disease. For meanings of milk protein allergy, please visit polyhobbies.com.

After an incubation period of up to 40 days, those affected by Q fever show flu-like symptoms with a high fever, chills, headache and general weakness. The disease is transmitted through contact with infected animals, which are often asymptomatic. In particular, inhaling hay and straw particles contaminated with the bacteria leads to infection with goat flu.

Only around half of those infected show the symptoms, which subside after a course of the disease of up to two weeks. When goat flu symptoms appear, one of the main risks of Q fever is the development of pneumonia, although the mortality rate is estimated to be as low as 1 to 2 percent.


Transmission of goat flu is mainly possible through contact with infected animals or with materials contaminated by these animals. The main carriers are livestock or dairy products contaminated by them.

However, possible carriers of infection can also be pets such as dogs or cats, which usually become carriers of Q fever through the bites of infected ticks. The bacteria often leave the host body during the birth process and are excreted with the afterbirth or the amniotic sac.

The group of people at risk therefore includes veterinarians, farmers and other people such as slaughterhouse staff who are with the animals or in the area of ​​contaminated stables. The long-lived pathogens of goat flu are ingested through breathing.

Once in the body, they multiply rapidly, primarily in the respiratory tract. Pneumonia as a side effect of goat flu is therefore not uncommon.

Typical Symptoms & Signs

  • high fever
  • General weakness
  • chills
  • Muscle pain or body aches
  • headache
  • possibly hepatitis and/or pneumonia

Diagnosis & History

Goat flu often goes undiagnosed due to the similarity of symptoms to common flu. In cases of suspicion due to the working environment in the vicinity of animals, a serological test is carried out, in which the existence of antibodies in response to goat flu is detected.

In fact, without the onset of serious symptoms, such as pneumonia or the involvement of other organs such as the liver and heart, goat flu has a similar course to the common cold. Q fever begins after the incubation period with a rising fever, soon followed by symptoms typical of influenza such as headache, chills and general malaise including muscle aches.

The severe form of goat flu with accompanying pneumonia manifests itself in the first few days. If this does not happen, the symptoms of goat flu will subside after seven to ten days.


Goat flu has a very negative effect on the quality of life of those affected and can lead to a number of different symptoms. Since the symptoms are not particularly characteristic and do not immediately indicate the disease, treatment is often delayed. Goat flu patients themselves suffer from a high fever and general weakness.

There is permanent tiredness and exhaustion and those affected no longer actively participate in everyday life. Severe headaches and body aches can also occur and significantly impair the everyday life of those affected. Most patients develop pneumonia, which in the worst case can be fatal.

As a rule, the treatment of goat flu does not lead to any special complications or other serious course. The symptoms are alleviated with the help of antibiotics and the disease usually progresses relatively quickly. If the flu is not treated, it can also lead to inflammation of the pericardium, which can be fatal. In most cases, the patient’s life expectancy is not negatively affected by this disease.

When should you go to the doctor?

A high fever is a sign of a health condition. A doctor should be consulted before serious complications or sequelae occur. Decrease in exercise capacity, general weakness, internal dryness, and chills should be evaluated and treated. Diffuse pain in the body, disorders of the muscular system and irregularities in the limbs and joints should be presented to a doctor. If the symptoms persist or increase in intensity, a doctor’s visit is necessary immediately.

In the case of goat flu, the pathogens multiply in the human body within a short period of time. Therefore, there may be a rapid development of health changes. There is a need for action in the case of headaches, concentration disorders and increased tiredness. If the person concerned complains about general functional disorders, this is to be regarded as an alarm signal from the organism. In the event of irregular breathing or breathing sounds, consult a doctor immediately.

If left untreated, the notifiable disease can take a serious course. In the worst case, there is a risk of premature death. In addition, there is a high risk of infection for people in the immediate vicinity. For the reasons given, a doctor should be informed of the observations at the first sign of a change in health. A diagnosis is necessary so that medical care can be initiated immediately.

Treatment & Therapy

When treating goat flu, it is important to recognize the symptoms as a bacterial infection and not a viral infection. If this has been correctly diagnosed, antibiotics are the drug of choice. They fight the bacteria and quickly cause the symptoms to fade.

For relief, patients are given antipyretics and painkillers, since goat flu is accompanied by muscle pain and headaches. Due to the persistent fever, patients have to drink a lot to compensate for the loss of fluids. If the disease progresses more severely, such as pericarditis or pneumonia, inpatient treatment is advisable.

In the case of chronic goat flu, a combination of antibiotics is used as a long-term therapy. In addition, antimalarial drugs are also effective against goat flu and some of these are also used successfully in rheumatic diseases.


There is a vaccine for goat flu, but it is not approved in Germany. It is only used in the United States with the express permission of the Department of Defense for vulnerable groups of people, since goat flu is being closely monitored as a potential bioweapon. The only preventive measure is careful handling of livestock. For example, protective clothing should be worn in livestock if Q fever is suspected.


Goat flu usually does not require any special aftercare. Complications or recurrence of Q fever after illness are unlikely. The follow-up care primarily focuses on clarifying the general condition of the patient and ensuring that the disease has completely recovered.

If necessary, information about the causes of goat flu in the work environment is provided. The triggers must be eliminated promptly to avoid reinfection with the virus. If the course is severe, health problems such as inflammation of the lungs or heart can occur, which must be monitored over a longer period of time. Patients should ensure that the disease is cured quickly and appropriately.

Follow-up care is provided by the responsible specialist. Since Q fever is often not diagnosed at all, treatment and aftercare is often carried out by the general practitioner. Follow-up care is provided immediately after recovery. If the course is difficult, further follow-up appointments must be arranged at short intervals. In the case of severe symptoms, inpatient treatment in the hospital is necessary. Then other specialists must be involved in the treatment in order to clarify whether the lungs, heart or immune system are involved.

You can do that yourself

Parallel to therapy with antibiotics, patients can support the healing process with home remedies, as with any other flu-like illness. Strict bed rest and sufficient sleep are particularly important here in order to protect the metabolism burdened by the infection and to activate self-healing.

Painkillers, which also have an antipyretic effect, are particularly helpful against the headaches and body aches that often occur as accompanying symptoms. These include, above all, preparations with the active ingredients paracetamol or acetylsalicylic acid. Cold compresses on the calves and forehead also help to lower body temperature and, most importantly, to relieve nagging headaches.

Since those affected by goat flu sweat profusely due to the often high fever, it is also important to ensure adequate fluid intake. Cool, but not ice-cold, non-carbonated water, diluted fruit juices, and unsweetened herbal teas work best. Teas made from elderberry or linden blossom are said to have a sweat-inducing and thus anti-infective effect. When it comes to meals, patients prefer light meals such as cooked vegetables and clear soups in order to relieve the metabolism and still provide them with the necessary nutrients. Chicken broth in particular has an additional antipyretic effect when you have the flu and strengthens the immune system.

Goat Flu (Q Fever)