The EU recommends the following medical control measures: treatment with antibiotics and inoculating susceptible animals before their next pregnancy. A French vaccine developed by CEVA (Coxevac) is available for veterinarians. However, the entire batch produced in 2010 was delivered to the Netherlands. A French combined vaccine for Chlamydia and Coxiella (Chlamyvax FQ by Rhone Merieu; Distribution: Merial) is available. Significant improvements in fertility dysfunction, udder health and pneumonia have been observed in vaccinated cattle.
Medical indications for sheep: vaccination to reduce miscarriage levels before the next oestrus period, the vaccination of sheep in Q fever epidemic regions. While the pathogen is not eliminated by the vaccine, the amount of pathogens discharged by infected animals is reduced considerably.
The fight against Q fever in farm animals focuses on preventative measures. However, early identification of infections in farm animals is required to put prevention and combating measures in place. A few important recommendations to identify Q fever outbreaks are looking for possible infection sources (sheep, goats, cattle, fallow deer), the incidence of miscarriages, examine cattle for ticks (tick faeces in the fleece – dark discolouration in the deeper fleece, inflamed skin/scabs where the animal was bitten by a tick; coal dust-like particles in the region between head, neck and withers with denser fleece) and serologic and molecular biological examinations to clarify the infection quantity (titer increase); immune-histochemical methods and microbiological tests (samples: afterbirth, genital smears).
Measures to reduce the spread of pathogens as a result of passive vector function
Tick faeces in the fleece: disinfection in an appropriate facility – it is recommended to ask for help at the local sheep farmers’ association and treatment with acaricide before the next tick infestation season.
Shearing in closed rooms – breathing protection, hygiene, burning contaminated wool.
Measures to reduce the spread of pathogens as a result of active vector function
Control of newly acquired animals
Moving highly pregnant animals into the mews to give birth: animals should give birth in closed buildings with enough distance to residential buildings.
Administering tetracycline to highly pregnant sheep will reduce the miscarriage rate, but will not eliminate the pathogen from the herd.
Removing the afterbirth: the contamination of the environment with birth products from infected animals should be minimised to prevent the airborne transmission of the pathogen. Afterbirth and stillbirths should be collected in closed, liquid impervious containers and should be disposed of professionally. The containers must be disinfected properly afterwards.
Infected mother animals and newly born lambs may be taken from the mews 14 days after the birth at the earliest.
Professional disinfection of the mews and equipment affected: 10-20% chlorinated lime solution, 1 % Lysol solution or 5 % hydrogen peroxide solution. Regular cleaning of the facilities should not be done with a high pressure jet or steam during the initial stages, as this might cause the pathogen to spread through aerosols.
Dirty bedding and litter, as well as sheep dung from affected mews must be piled up and covered in plastic foil and stored for two years before it can be used to fertilise agricultural areas. It is not recommended to transports animal waste from infected stalls on windy days due to dust formation.
Individuals who spend time in mews with infected animals to shear them or carry out other activities should comply with the usual hygiene requirements (e.g. washing hands repeatedly, wearing protective gloves, separate work clothes) and wear protective masks. Exposure to infectious particulates from the fleece (tick faeces) can be minimised by shearing followed by a treatment for ectoparasites.
Controlled treatment with acaricides in: a) herds which could be infected before the next tick infestation season; and b) herds in known Dermacentor biotopes at the beginning of the Dermacentor infestation period on a yearly basis. Treatment methods with pyrethroids, combing methods with organophosphates, vaccination methods using macrocyclic lactones. It is impossible to eliminate the Q fever pathogen in natural herds completely, as ticks and wild animals are the pathogen’s reservoir. The spread of the pathogen can be reduced considerably (CUVA Stuttgart) by trying to exterminate ticks in the herds affected every year at the beginning of the tick season (February).
Sheep and goat herds should not get closer than 500 m to residential areas.
No outside visitors at locations with increased risk levels.
Dogs and cats should stay away from mews with infected animals.
Measures/recommendations in the Netherlands: monitoring, breeding stop, no expansion, transportation stop etc.