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The value of follow-up after acute Q fever infection.

This is a case report of a 53-year-old woman involved in an outbreak of Q fever, in whom Q fever endocarditis was diagnosed 18 months after acute Q fever infection. At the time of diagnosis, she was completely asymptomatic and without screening for chronic Q fever, this severe potentially life-threatening infection would probably not have been recognised until significant valvular destruction had taken place. Early diagnosis enabled prompt, potentially curative medical treatment to start without the need for valvular heart surgery. The authors advocate that serological monitoring should be carried out every 4 months for a period of 2 years after acute Q fever and patients with high phase 1 IgG titres (>800) be investigated further and/or followed more closely depending on the clinical scenario. The case report also discusses the use of complement fixation testing in the diagnosis of Q fever endocarditis. The authors recommend that in cases of culture negative endocarditis, a single negative complement fixation test is not sufficient to exclude the diagnosis of Q fever endocarditis. Micro-immunofluorescence or repeat complement fixation testing is recommended when Q fever endocarditis is suspected clinically.

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