Report: Rare Q Fever Killed 2 in Nevada, Infected 8 Total

A rare bacterial disease known as Q fever is turning up in a rural northern Nevada county that also is home to a childhood leukemia cluster, according to a published report.

The Reno Gazette-Journal reported Saturday that Nevada had eight reported cases of Q fever in 2007, six of them in Churchill County. In 2006, the state had seven reported cases, all of them in Churchill County.

Tammy Sneddon of Fallon says both her 41-year-old husband, Chris, and a 65-year-old man who lived next door had been diagnosed with Q fever before dying last year.

She criticized state health officials, saying the cases should be investigated further and the public needs to be aware of the illness.

State health officials say every case of Q fever in Nevada has been investigated and there's nothing to be alarmed about.

They attribute the number of the county's cases to doctors in an agricultural area being more inclined to test for a disease that's usually spread by farm animals.

Since 1997, 17 children with ties to Fallon have been diagnosed with acute lymphocytic leukemia. Three have died.

Q fever is a zoonotic disease caused by Coxiella burnetii, a species of bacteria that is distributed globally, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In 1999, Q fever became a notifiable disease in the United States but reporting is not required in many other countries.

Symptoms of Q fever include high fevers (up to 104-105° F), severe headache, general malaise, myalgia, confusion, sore throat, chills, sweats, non-productive cough, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and chest pain. Fever usually lasts for 1 to 2 weeks, according to the CDC's Web site.