Q fever is a disease caused by infection with Coxiella burnetii, a bacterium that affects humans and other animals. This organism is uncommon, but may be found in cattle, sheep, goats and other domestic mammals, including cats and dogs. The infection results from inhalation of a spore-like small cell variant, and from contact with the milk, urine, feces, vaginal mucus, or semen of infected animals. Rarely, the disease is tick borne. The incubation period is 940 days. A human being can be infected by a single bacterium. The bacterium is an obligate intracellular pathogen. It was first described by Edward Holbrook Derrick in abattoir workers in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia. The 'Q' stands for 'query' and was applied at a time when the causative agent was unknown; it was chosen over suggestions of 'abattoir fever' and 'Queensland rickettsial fever', to avoid directing negative connotations at either the cattle industry or the state of Queensland.
Contributions by Graham87, Arcadian, and SETh.