New disease causing sickness among Dutch living near goat farms: Scientists

Edited By: Bharat Sharma WION Web Team
New Delhi, India Published: Jan 18, 2021, 04.34 PM(IST)

Representative image of goats Photograph:( AFP )

Story highlights

An outbreak of Q fever between 2007 to 2010 infected thousands of people, and 95 people died due to complications including heart failure

People living close to goat farms in the Netherlands are falling sick. An outbreak of Q fever between 2007 to 2010 infected thousands of people, and 95 people died due to complications including heart failure.

The disease infects livestock like goats, sheep, cattle and is usually found in placenta, urine, milk, and faeces.

Now, scientists in the Netherlands are worried about another outbreak, in the middle of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

To stop the Q fever outbreak, the Dutch government culled over 50,000 dairy goats inhabiting 55 farms, The Guardian reported. Studies undertaken by experts are now linking pneumonia among human beings to goat farms.

Dick Heeredik, a zoonotic disease risk expert at the University of Utrecht told The Guardian that people who live near goat farms have a 20 per cent to 55 per cent higher risk of developing pneumonia.  He added that the increased risk is seen within a radius of 1-1.5 kilometres.

People respond to the disease differently. While some develop no symptoms, many develop fever, chills, fatigue, and muscle pain.

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After the Q fever outbreak, goat dairying grew in the Netherlands, but fears of another zoonotic disease also increased. The southern part of the country remains the most vulnerable, where the highest number of goat farms exist.

When the Q fever was contained in 2010, over 4,000 cases were reported among people, with the estimate running as high as 50,000.

Even though the goat farming sector has witnessed a boom over the last two decades, findings of pneumonia appearing among people living close to farms led to restrictions on the sector in 2017.

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The country also undertakes an annual goat vaccination programme to eradicate the risk of a Q fever outbreak.

Researchers involved in the study claim that it could be a new zoonotic disease, but added that they “really don’t know”, as stated by Johanna van der Giessen, a zoonotic disease specialist at the Dutch National Institute for Public Health and the Environment.

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