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Tough lessons from Dutch Q fever outbreak

The chief veterinary officer of the Netherlands has defended the country's decision to cull thousands of goats in an effort to control an unprecedented outbreak of Q fever.

The Netherlands "can't take a chance", Christianne Bruschke told Nature after a meeting in Breda -- a city near the heart of the outbreak.

At the meeting, scientists from other countries questioned the tactic. But Bruschke said that in other countries the authorities have been able to ignore the disease because there have been relatively few cases. In the Netherlands, however, epidemiological studies pinpointed goats as the source of the disease -- in an area increasingly densely populated by humans and dairy farms over the past decade, she added -- so the country had to act fast.

Q fever, caused by Coxiella burnetii bacteria, is harboured in mammals, birds and even insects. It can trigger abortions in goats and sheep and causes flu-like symptoms and sometimes pneumonia in humans.
 
 

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