Misha P. Robyn, DVM
, and her colleagues found that live cell therapy ‒ the alternative medicine technique of injecting animal cells into humans ‒ was the likely source of a Q fever outbreak in 2014 in the US and Canada among people who had traveled to Germany several months earlier to be injected with sheep cells, a treatment unavailable in the United States.
In fall 2014, five residents in New York State and one in Canada who tested seropositive for the bacterium that causes Q fever, Coxiella burnetii
, had Q fever-like symptoms and had traveled to Germany in the spring for live cell therapy by the same physician. German authorities identified a Q fever-positive sheep flock as the source of the cells.
Patients with Q fever had at least one IgG titer 1:128 or higher to C. burnetii
phase II antigen. The median patient age was 61 and three (60%) were female. Signs and symptoms began roughly 1 to 7 days after exposure and lasted around 10 to 90 days; 80% of patients reported fever, sweating and fatigue, and 60% reported headache, chills and malaise. No one was hospitalized and no additional cases were identified. The researchers cautioned clinicians to be aware of this practice and to consider zoonotic disease potential in patients receiving live cell therapy.
Lorraine L. Janeczko, MPH, is a medical science writer who creates news, continuing medical education and feature content in a wide range of specialties for clinicians, researchers and other readers. She has completed a Master of Public Health degree through the Department of Epidemiology of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and a Dana Postdoctoral Fellowship in Preventive Public Health Ophthalmology from the Wilmer Eye Institute, the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and the Bloomberg School.
SOURCE: EIS 2016 Conference Program, pp 69-71: Concurrent Session H1: Zoonotic Diseases
Kathryn G. Curran, PhD, EIS officer, Office of Infectious Diseases, Escherichia coli O157 Infections Linked to Dairy Education Event Attendance — Whatcom County, Washington, 2015
Alexia Harrist, MD, PhD, EIS officer, Office of Public Health Scientific Services, Francisella tularensis Exposure Among National Park Service Employees — Devils Tower National Monument, Wyoming, 2015
Kelly J. Gambino-Shirley, DVM, MPH, EIS officer, National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases, Multistate Outbreaks of Salmonella Sandiego and Salmonella Poona Infections Linked to Small Turtles — United States, 2015
Ashley R. Styczynski, MD, MPH, EIS officer, National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases, Investigation of an Emerging Zoonotic Vaccinia Virus — Colombia, 2015
Misha P. Robyn, DVM, EIS officer, Division of Scientific Education and Professional Development, Epidemiology Workforce Branch, Q Fever Outbreak Among Travelers to Germany Who Received Live Cell Therapy — United States and Canada, 2014
To stay informed on the latest in infectious disease news and developments, please sign up for our weekly newsletter.