Q fever is caused by the organism Coxiella burnetii.
There are three tests offered for the diagnosis of these diseases:
- Indirect microimmunofluorescence assay (IFA)
- Polymerase chain reaction (PCR)
For the IFA, Clotted blood (serum) may be submitted for serological diagnosis. If possible a follow-up specimen should be sent a minimum of 7-10 days later to detect a change from negative to a positive antibody level (seroconversion) or if the first sample is positive, a significant increase in antibody levels will also confirm the diagnosis.
Q-fever serology involves testing the patient's serum against phase 2 C. burnetii ( acute Q-fever) and phase 1 C. burnetii (chronic Q-fever).
The PCR involves the detection of 2 specific DNA targets of the C. burnetii genome.
The culture assay involves the isolation of the organism in cell culture and can take up to twelve weeks.