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Original Research

Preventing Q fever endocarditis: a review of cardiac assessment in hospitalised Q fever patients

Submitted: 18 March 2011
Revised: 27 September 2011
Published: 17 November 2011

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Author(s) : Hess IM, Massey PD, Durrheim DN, O'Connor S, Graves SR.

Isabel HessPeter MasseyDavid DurrheimStephen Graves

Citation: Hess IM, Massey PD, Durrheim DN, O'Connor S, Graves SR.  Preventing Q fever endocarditis: a review of cardiac assessment in hospitalised Q fever patients. Rural and Remote Health (Internet) 2011; 11: 1763. Available: (Accessed 21 October 2017)


Introduction:  Acute Q fever is an important zoonotic disease in some parts of rural Australia. Q Fever can lead to chronic disease such as endocarditis, this complication occurring more commonly in patients with underlying heart valve pathology or an impaired immune system. Untreated Q fever endocarditis has a high mortality rate, but even with appropriate therapy, 10% of patients will die. Cardiac assessment can identify patients at risk. The aim of this review was to examine recorded cardiac assessment of hospitalised Q fever patients within the regional area of Hunter New England (HNE), New South Wales (NSW).
Methods:  Medical records of patients with Q fever admitted to hospitals in HNE during the period 2005–2009 were identified through the NSW Notifiable Diseases Database and the NSW Inpatient Statistics Collection. A standardised medical record review tool was used to undertake the review.
Results:  Eighty-nine records were reviewed. Over 50% of patients were admitted to a district hospital staffed by local GPs. Cardiac assessment was not routinely documented and for 91% there was no record of a cardiac history being taken. Approximately 25% had no record of a cardiac physical examination and only 6 cases had a record of a complete cardiac examination.
Conclusion:  Q Fever remains an important disease in some parts of rural Australia. Q Fever endocarditis is a serious sequel to acute Q fever and underlying heart valve pathology. Due to its indolent progression and poor outcome when diagnosis is delayed, a thorough cardiac assessment of all patients with suspected or confirmed Q fever is important. The level of documentation of cardiac assessment for Q fever patients is of concern because it may indicate cardiac assessments were not performed. General practitioners, especially in rural and regional areas, are encouraged to conduct cardiac assessments for all patients with acute Q fever to identify patients at risk of developing Q fever endocarditis.

Key words: endocarditis, medical records, physical examination, Q fever.

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