Gab Ibis

The Department of Health (DOH) announced its coordination with the Department of Agriculture (DA) following the confirmation of the first case of Query fever in the Philippines.

Photo Courtesy of Department of Agricuture/Kateryna Kon/Shutterstock.

The zoonotic disease, traced to imported goats from the United States, was detected at a government breeding station in Marinduque.

Dr. Christian Daquigan, the officer in charge of the BAI National Veterinary Quarantine Services Division, confirmed that 19 samples from the imported goats tested positive for Q fever after undergoing blood tests and genetic testing.

“Even the goats that have not been tested were depopulated to eliminate any possible source of Q fever infection,” he said.

The Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) has reported that all 94 imported goats housed in facilities in Pampanga and Marinduque have been culled to prevent the spread of the disease. 

“BAI is taking decisive measures to contain the disease and prevent further spread. Infected goats have been depopulated, and tracing of potentially infected animals is ongoing to prevent the spread of Q fever.”

In response, the DA imposed a temporary ban on goat imports from the United States and initiated a thorough investigation into the importation and quarantine protocols. 

Agriculture Secretary Francisco Tiu Laurel Jr. emphasized the need for immediate action and has formed a team to investigate potential irregularities in the importation process. 

“This is a very serious matter. We will leave no stone unturned to ensure that the health of Filipinos is not compromised,” he stated.

Q fever, caused by the bacteria Coxiella burnetii, commonly infects goats, sheep, and cows. The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stated that humans can contract the disease by inhaling contaminated dust, contacting infected animals, or consuming unpasteurized milk. 

Symptoms in humans typically appear two to three weeks after exposure and include fever, fatigue, headache, cough, nausea and vomiting.

As of the latest update, no human cases of Q fever have been reported in the Philippines. The DOH and DA also stated that the situation is under control, with no evidence of widespread transmission beyond the quarantined facilities

The health department assured the public that Q fever is curable with widely available antibiotics and advised avoiding contact with animals suspected of carrying the bacteria

Extensive surveillance and additional testing are also being conducted to control and prevent the further spread of the disease. 

Goat meat and milk remain safe for consumption if properly cooked and pasteurized, the local authorities assured.  

“Safe pa po, basta make sure po natin lagi na iyong mga kinakain natin is naluto muna nating mabuti. And iyong mga milk, especially ngayon nauuso iyong milk ng goat, kailangan pasteurized,” Daquigan said.

For those suspecting exposure to Q fever, the DOH recommended consulting the nearest hospital or clinic.