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Volume 17, Number 12—December 2011

Etymologia: Q Fever

Nancy Männikkö

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Q fever [ku fe’vər]

From Q for query, because the disease was an illness of unknown etiology. In 1937, Australian researcher Edward Derrick reported a disease that affected workers in slaughterhouses. Coxiella burnetii, the bacteria that causes the disease, was found shortly after Derrick’s investigation began. However, many aspects of the disease continue to puzzle researchers, making the name Q fever as appropriate today as it was 74 years ago.

Sources: Cooke RA. Q fever. Was Edward Derrick’s contribution undervalued? Med J Aust. 2008;189:660–2. PubMed; Derrick EH. “Q” fever, a new fever entity: clinical features, diagnosis, and laboratory investigation. Med J Aust. 1937;2:281–99; Dorland’s illustrated medical dictionary. 31st ed. Philadelphia: Saunders; 2007; Mackerras IM. Australian Academy of Sciences biographical memoirs of deceased members: Edward Holbrook Derrick 1898–1976 [cited 2011 Sep 9].


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DOI: 10.3201/eid1712.et1712

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Table of Contents – Volume 17, Number 12—December 2011

Page created: December 02, 2011
Page updated: May 18, 2012
Page reviewed: May 18, 2012
The conclusions, findings, and opinions expressed by authors contributing to this journal do not necessarily reflect the official position of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Public Health Service, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or the authors' affiliated institutions. Use of trade names is for identification only and does not imply endorsement by any of the groups named above.