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Hundreds of Q fever patients still have many complaints 15 years after the outbreak

Patients with Q fever fatigue syndrome (QVS) still have symptoms years after infection. This is evident from research conducted by the Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam. More than half of the Q fever patients who participated in the study rated their lives as unsatisfactory (5.0), fifteen years after the first Q fever outbreak.

For four years, Erasmus MC in Rotterdam was commissioned by Q-support, an interest group for Q fever patients, to investigate the complaints of approximately 450 patients with QVS. The first results, released on Saturday, showed that many patients still had significant problems.

So while the largest outbreak of Q fever in the world was about fifteen years ago, in 2007. The infection was first discovered in Herpen. As of 2010, between 50,000 and 100,000 Dutch people were infected with the bacteria that is spread by animals. Researchers compare COVID in the lung with QVS, because both diseases involve long-term complaints. They also have in common that the disease is transmitted from animals to humans. Previous research has already shown that at least 21 patients have died from the bacteria since 2018.

Work less or not work
Research by Erasmus MC shows that to this day QVS patients suffer from twelve different health complaints. The three most common are fatigue, difficulty concentrating, and physical exhaustion. “But we also see complaints like insomnia and mental complaints in patients,” researcher Inge Spronk says.

As a result, nearly half of the respondents (46 percent) stopped working. A third of those surveyed reduced their hours as a result of QVS. The social life of many patients was interrupted by severe exhaustion. This leaves little energy for family, friends, and hobbies.

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Where the average Dutch person estimates a lifespan of 8.2, people with QVS give their lifespan of 5.0. In general, patients have little confidence that complaints will go away over time, and only 17 percent expect that.

“What we see is that patients learn to handle QVS over time and think in terms of possibilities. This is easier with older patients than with younger patients,” says Spronk.

Care is not aligned properly
The study also provides a picture of the care patients receive and what they are thinking. One third of respondents are not satisfied with the care provided.

A much larger portion (75 percent) believes that health care providers should better coordinate their treatment, as they often have different types of complaints. For half of the patients, it is not even clear where they can go with complaints.

Read also: Years after the outbreak, people are still dying from Q fever

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