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Q fever infection is a preventable risk associated with pet food manufacturing.

OBJECTIVE: This paper highlights the occupational risk of Q fever from exposure to raw animal products in the context of multiple notified Q fever cases from 2020 to 2023 linked to four pet food manufacturing facilities in South-East Queensland, Australia.

METHODS: The Queensland Government Notifiable Conditions System was used to identify Q fever cases linked to pet food manufacturing in the Metro North and Gold Coast Hospital and Health Service areas of Brisbane, Australia. Data on each case from routine public health follow-up were collected and descriptively analysed.

RESULTS: Between 2020 and 2023, 12 confirmed Q fever infections (17% of total cases) were linked to four pet food manufacturing facilities. Eleven cases reported direct or environmental exposure to raw meat and animal products. None were previously vaccinated for Q fever.

CONCLUSION: These cases demonstrate the increased risk of Q fever infection as part of the pet food manufacturing process, highlighting an underappreciated preventable occupational risk, which can be mitigated with the use of pre-screening and vaccination of workers. All occupations should conduct workplace-based risk assessments to identify risks such as Q fever to prevent adverse negative health outcomes.

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