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Signs and Symptoms

Worried senior woman comforting a sick elderly man

About half the people infected with Q fever will get sick. Signs and symptoms of Q fever may include:

  • Fever
  • Chills or sweats
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Muscle aches
  • Nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
  • Chest pain
  • Stomach pain
  • Weight loss
  • Non-productive cough

Q fever can cause mild or severe symptoms. People who develop severe cases may develop inflammation of the lungs (pneumonia) or liver (hepatitis). Women who are infected during pregnancy may be at risk for miscarriage, stillbirth, pre-term delivery, or low infant birth weight.

A very small percentage of people who become infected with Q fever develop a more serious infection called chronic Q fever. Chronic Q fever is serious and can be fatal if not treated correctly. Infection with chronic Q fever requires months of antibiotic treatment. Chronic Q fever is more likely to occur in people with heart valve disease, blood vessel abnormalities, or who are immunosuppressed.  Women infected during pregnancy may also be at risk. People with chronic Q fever usually develop an infection of one or more heart valves (called endocarditis).