The Dutch government has announced a raft of strict measures in an effort to tackle a deadly outbreak of Q fever. The rare bacterial disease that affects goats and sheep usually only causes flu-like symptoms in humans. However, it can prove fatal. Six people in the Netherlands have so far died this year.
Dutch Heath Minister Ab Klink said: ‘‘It is important to tell you and the people in the infected areas, that the chances of someone being infected are small. We are at a time of year where they don’t give birth, so we have, from a public-health point of view, time to take these new measures.’‘
The bacteria which causes Q fever spreads particularly fast when infected sheep and goats give birth or have miscarriages. The Dutch government has ordered a vaccination programme of all at-risk animals, and will cull all those on infected farms. Q fever was almost unknown in humans before 2007.