Q fever seroprevalence and associated risk factors among students from the Veterinary School of Zaragoza, Spain.
Q fever is a zoonosis related to the existence of Coxiella burnetii infected animals. The authors studied the seroprevalence and risk factors associated to C. burnetii infection in veterinary students in Zaragoza (Spain). Sera were collected at the beginning and the end of the academic year (1994-1995) and were tested by Complement fixation test to detect antibodies against C. burnetii. 10.02 and 11.02% seroprevalences were observed at the beginning and the end of the study respectively. The cumulative incidence through the period of study was 0.0157. Risk factors associated to C. burnetii were multiple: students coursing the speciality in Food Inspection and Technology or the speciality of Animal Production; to practise with living animals in general and particularly with ruminants and to contact frequently with persons who worked with animals, particularly with veterinarians, farmers and animal traders. In parallel, the students coursing the first course showed a significant lower seroprevalence. Male students from the fifth course were significantly more seroprevalent than females, where sex was a protection factor. Concerning the clinical signs asked in the questionnaire, cardiovascular disturbances, flu and/or pneumonia, sweating, transient hypertermia or spondylitis were associated factors. Conversely, a good response after treatment of symptoms was a protection factor. The only risk factor associated with incidence along the year of study was practising in farms. The authors recommend a revision of hygiene measures to control risk factors and the diagnostic of C. burnetii infection when populations at risk show the associated symptoms.