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‘Query fever’ – usually shortened to ‘Q fever’, was named by Dr John Derrick, who described an outbreak of a febrile illness that occurred among abattoir workers in 1935. He gave the blood from some of his patients to two microbiologists; Sir MacFarlane-Burnet and Dr R. Freeman, who injected it into guinea pigs and isolated the organism responsible – a bacterium belonging to the rickettsial family now called Coxiella burnetii.

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