Queensland Fever essay paper 2 pages

Queensland Fever

The illness known as “Queensland Fever” is also commonly referred to as Queensland tick typhus (QTT) and is resultant of the patient’s contraction of the organism Rickettsia australis, which is transmitted through the bite of one of two types of ticks, either the Ixodes holocyclus or I. tasmani (Hanson). This disease is prevalent along the eastern coast of Australia, including Queensland, New South Wales, Sydney, and the Flinders Island in the Bass Strait. Environmental factors that contribute to the spread of the disease seem simply to be that the ticks of this type are located in an environment suitable for them to reproduce, and it is in such an environment that patients are bitten by a tick and infected. It would seem also that these ticks are particularly prevalent in suburban areas, as in many cases, patients contracted the illness after having been bitten by a tick during outdoor activities (such as planting trees) in suburban Sydney. It was also discovered however that some cases were contracted from tick bites after the patient had visited a game park in South Africa or been performing rural road work (Anderson 963).

Symptoms of Queensland Fever vary from chronic to acute, but in most cases, the illness is not severe and the recovery is not complicated. There have rarely been reported cases in which the disease resulted in fatality, and these are suggested to have been due to late detection of the disease which increased its severity. Symptoms of Queensland Fever include fever, headaches, cough, myalgia, and usually a rash originating from the spot of the tick bite, which may form an eschar (Anderson 963). Rashes usually begin as maculopapular lesions but may increase in severity to become either petechial or vesicular (Anderson 963). Other symptoms that do not always occur but which are possible are joint pain, nausea, abdominal pain, photophobia, conjunctivitis and sore throat. Most patients who have been hospitalized with the disease and febrile also had tachycardia and tachypnea (Hanson). Depending upon severity, some cases also develop severe pneumonia, confusion, multiorgan failure, purpura fulminans, tender local lymphadenopathy, and digital necrosis (Hanson).

In order to treat this condition, patients were hospitalized and given a series of treatments that nearly always included multiple daily dosages of doxycycline. Other treatments included intubation, ventilation, intravenous penicillin (for the patient provisionally diagnosed with leptospirosis), antimicrobial drugs, and digital amputation (for the patient suffering from digital necrosis) (Hanson). Most patients were able to recover after hospitalization for seven days, and continued to be treated for another seven days with doxycycline out of hospital. Other more severe cases were kept hospitalized for two weeks, and in one case, the patient was unable to return to work for two months (Hanson). Multiple tests were performed on each patient in order to determine further infections that may have developed in skin and blood tissues and to discover other common symptoms and effects of this specific disease. It was through these tests that the best treatments for each case were also discovered, and each patient was continually monitored for further developments.

So far, work to control the disease is rather slow, but continued study and tests are being done in order to increase understanding of the disease and how to control it. For now, doctors are highly recommending that any patients who reside in or visit the area common to the disease (the eastern coast of Australia) be considered early on for contraction of Queensland fever (Hanson), because the best way to combat it before it becomes severe is to catch it early and begin treatment right away. It is understood that delays in seeking treatment contributed to the increasing severity of the disease. Further studies being conducted to separate Queensland fever caused by Rickettsia australis from other forms of illness closely related to it will help determine the correct treatment for the disease in the future.

Works Cited

Anderson, Catherine, et al. “Diagnosis of Queensland Tick Typhus and African Tick Bite Fever

by PCR of Lesion Swabs.” Emerging Infectious Diseases. 15.6 (2009): 963-965. 23 Jan.

2011. .

Hanson, Joshua P., et al. “Severe Spotted Fever Group Rickettsiosis, Australia.” Emerging

Infectious Diseases. 13.11 (2007): 23 Jan. 2011.


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