28 June 2001
Cull workers hit by rare disease
By FWi staff
DOCTORS have been put on alert after three soldiers contracted a rare disease after working on the foot-and-mouth cull, reports The Guardian.
The servicemen apparently caught Q fever, which is linked with contact to animals, while burying carcasses of culled animals in Northumberland.
Now people involved in the foot-and-mouth cull who display flu-like symptoms are being closely monitored, reports The Guardian.
Two of the soldiers were treated in hospital in May after complaining of flu-like symptoms, including breathing problems. They are recovering after being released.
The third soldier, who had worked on at least one of the same farms, is also recovering from the disease, the paper reports.
Q fever is a bacterial disease usually caused by direct contact with animals such as sheep, cattle and goats. The Guardian says the disease can be fatal.
Health officials are quoted as saying people involved in the cull will offered screening through a blood test if they show symptoms.
These can include headaches, fever, muscle pain and sometimes pneumonia.
Complications can develop, including a potentially fatal inflammation of the heart in 11% of cases, or liver problems in 1% of cases.
However, a Department of Health spokesman said it is not a high-risk disease and exposure to the bacteria among people who work on farms is very high.
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