Funds to fight infection for animal workers

Parliamentary Secretary to the Deputy Premier and Southern NSW Bronnie Taylor with Health Minister Brad Hazzard.

Farmers and other rural workers will benefit from a $475,000 investment by the NSW Government to help fight the incidence of Q fever among those working with animals.

The NSW Government is investing $275,000 into a Q fever education campaign and a further $200,000 on research into an improved vaccine for the bacterial infection.

Health Minister Brad Hazzard, joined by Bronnie Taylor, Parliamentary Secretary to the Deputy Premier and Southern NSW, kicked off the Q Fever campaign at the Sydney Royal Easter Show recently urging farmers, vets and rural workers to be vaccinated.

“Working on the land is tough enough without being bedridden or even hospitalised for months on end due to this debilitating disease,” Mr Hazzard said.

“Q fever is preventable through a lifelong vaccination so I strongly urge those at risk to ensure they are protected.”

Parliamentary Secretary Bronnie Taylor added: “As a former rural nurse, I know that prevention is the best cure. But the first step is awareness and we need to get the industry and community talking about Q fever transmission risks.”

Dr Jeremy McAnulty, Director of Health Protection, NSW Health, said the research funding will assist the Australian Rickettsial Reference Laboratory, working with the Elizabeth Macarthur Agricultural Institute at Camden, to develop an improved vaccine.

The current vaccine is not suitable for people aged under 15 and requires screening to prevent severe reactions in those who have had previous exposure to Q fever.

“Last year, more than 200 people contracted Q fever in NSW, mostly males aged between 40 and 70, and almost half ended up in hospital,” Dr McAnulty said.

“People aged over 15 living or working on the land should talk to their GP about getting a vaccination as the illness can affect your entire working life.”

The NSW Government has worked with the Royal Agricultural Society, NSW Farmers’ Association, the NSW Country Women’s Association and SafeWork NSW to develop the Q fever education campaign and has launched an online learning module to help GPs recognise symptoms and diagnose Q fever, with almost 250 already enrolled.

Q fever is spread to humans from animals and symptoms include high fevers and chills, severe sweats, severe headaches, muscle and joint pains and extreme fatigue.