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You are here: Contents > 2016 > Volume 25 Number 3 May 2016 > INFECTIVE ENDOCARDITIS > Seroprevalence of Q Fever in Patients Undergoing Heart Valve Replacement Surgery

Seroprevalence of Q Fever in Patients Undergoing Heart Valve Replacement Surgery

Owen Seddon1,7, Reza Ashrafi2, Jacqueline Duggan6, Rhianydd Rees1, Christine Tan3, John Williams5, Gail Carson4, Brendan Healy1,3

1Public Health Wales, Cardiff, Wales, UK
2Bristol Heart Institute, Bristol Royal Infirmary, Bristol, UK
3University Hospital of Wales, Cardiff, Wales, UK
4International Severe Acute Respiratory & Emerging Infection Consortium (ISARIC)
5James Cook University Hospital, Middlesbrough, UK
6Rare and Imported Pathogens Laboratory, Public Health England, Wiltshire, UK
7Electronic correspondence:

Background and aim of the study: Q fever, caused by the rickettsia Coxiella burnetii, is a worldwide zoonotic disease with both acute and chronic manifestations. Endocarditis is the principal chronic manifestation. Q fever can easily be mistaken for degenerative valve disease due to its indolent presentation, the fastidious nature of the organism (routine cultures are negative), and the absence of a typical echocardiographic and macroscopic appearance for endocarditis. Prosthetic valve failure, with associated morbidity and mortality, have been described following unrecognized infections.

Methods: Previous studies have documented the value of screening strategies in areas of high prevalence. Hence, a pilot study was conducted in a low-prevalence setting, in which 139 patients at two tertiary cardiac centers

attending for elective valve replacement for degenerative valvular disease underwent testing for chronic Q fever infection by serological and molecular methods on blood and valve tissue.

Results: Five patients (3.7%) had serological evidence of past exposure to Q fever (consistent with rates in the literature). None had evidence of chronic Q fever endocarditis. The cost of adopting a universal screening strategy is around £40,000 per case (if serology is used to screen patients prior to surgery).

Conclusion: Alternative and more cost-effective methods for identifying clinically quiet cases of chronic Q fever endocarditis are required.

The Journal of Heart Valve Disease 2016;25:375-379

Seroprevalence of Q Fever in Patients Undergoing Heart Valve Replacement Surgery

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