Markers of infection in inpatients and outpatients with acute Q-fever

Norbert C.J. de Wit (Corresponding Author), Cornelis P.C. de Jager, Jamie C.E. Meekelenkamp, Marianne Schoorl, Arianne B. van Gageldonk-Lafeber, Alexander C.A.P. Leenders, Ron Kusters, Peter C. Wever

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Background: Query-fever (Q-fever) is a zoonotic infection caused by the intracellular Gram-negative coccobacillus Coxiella burnetii. A large ongoing outbreak of Q-fever has been reported in the Netherlands. We studied various markers of infection in inpatients (hospitalised) and outpatients (treated by a general physician) with acute Q-fever in relation to disease severity.

Methods: Leukocyte counts, C-reactive protein (CRP) and procalcitonin (PCT) concentrations were measured in 25 inpatients and 40 outpatients upon presentation with acute Q-fever. Chest X-rays, if available, were analysed and confusion, urea, respiratory rate, blood pressure-age 65 (CURB-65) scores, indicating severity of pneumonia, were calculated.

Results: CRP was the only marker that significantly differentiated between inpatients and outpatients. It was increased in all patients from both groups. Leukocyte counts and PCT concentrations did not differ between inpatients and outpatients. Overall, only 13/65 patients had an increased leukocyte count and only 11/65 patients presented with PCT concentrations indicative of possible bacterial respiratory tract infection. Infiltrative changes on the chest X-ray were observed in the majority of patients. CURB-65 score was 0±1 (mean±SD).

Conclusions: Acute Q-fever, a relatively mild pneumonia with low CURB-65 scores, specifically induces a response in CRP, while PCT concentrations and leukocytes are within the normal range or increased only marginally.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1407-1409
JournalClinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Acute Query-fever (Q-fever)
  • C-reactive protein
  • Infection markers
  • Leukocyte count
  • Procalcitonin
  • n/a OA procedure

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