Q Fever Outbreak Among Travelers to Germany Who Received Live Cell Therapy — United States and Canada, 2014
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During September–November 2014, the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) was notified of five New York state residents who had tested seropositive for Coxiella burnetii, the causative agent of Q fever. All five patients had symptoms compatible with Q fever (e.g., fever, fatigue, chills, and headache) and a history of travel to Germany to receive a medical treatment called "live cell therapy" (sometimes called "fresh cell therapy") in May 2014. Live cell therapy is the practice of injecting processed cells from organs or fetuses of nonhuman animals (e.g., sheep) into human recipients. It is advertised to treat a variety of health conditions. This practice is unavailable in the United States; however, persons can travel to foreign locations to receive injections. Local health departments interviewed the patients, and NYSDOH notified CDC and posted a report on CDC’s Epidemic Information Exchange to solicit additional cases. Clinical and exposure information for each patient was reported to the Robert Koch Institute in Germany, which forwarded the information to local health authorities. A Canada resident who also received live cell therapy in May 2014 was diagnosed with Q fever in July 2014. Clinicians should be aware of health risks, such as Q fever and other zoonotic diseases, among patients with a history of receiving treatment with live cell therapy products.
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