Members of the Armed Forces can be exposed to a variety of diseases during service overseas. Such diseases include Q Fever, e.g. when serving in Afghanistan where it has been known since 1972 that Q fever occurs.
The dusty environments of Helmand and other areas of Afghanistan present a significant risk of Q Fever, particularly when helicopter downdraughts cause dust, containing the offending particles, to become airborne and to circulate.
Many cases of Q fever are initially asymptomatic, and so the infected soldier is at first unaware of their infection. Symptoms generally begin 2-3 weeks after infection. The symptoms of this ‘acute‘ Q fever include fever, extreme fatigue, photophobia (aversion to light) and a severe headache, frequently retro-orbital (‘ behind the eyes’).
Other symptoms can include chills, sweats, nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea, and a fine, slightly raised rash. The acute fever often resolves spontaneously and is dismissed as a ‘cold’, however pneumonia or hepatitis can develop during the acute phase.
‘Chronic’ Q fever occurs when the fever persists and often becomes severe (this happens in approx. 1-2 % of cases of infection). The most common presentation of chronic Q fever is an endocarditis (infection of the heart’s inner lining).
Additional late complications can be hepatitis, osteomyelitis (infection of the bone marrow) and optic neuritis (inflammation of the optic nerve, which can cause temporary vision loss and/or pain, typically in one eye only).
Prolonged fatigue can follow Q fever and can be accompanied by a constellation of disabling symptoms including headaches, sweats, arthralgia (joint pains), pain and/or involuntary twitching in muscles, and enlarged and painful lymph nodes.
This is known as ‘post-Q fever fatigue syndrome ‘ which is often extremely debilitating, resulting in loss of military career and long-term/permanent disability and the associated consequences for the sufferer (often including psychological issues) and their loved ones.
Acute/ chronic Q fever can be treated effectively with Doxycycline if treatment is prompt and adequate. There is also evidence that Doxycycline can be used as an effective prophylactic, such that taking it in advance of infection can minimise the effects of infection, and potentially avoid chronic Q fever and indeed post- Q fever fatigue syndrome.
At Gorvins, our military claims solicitors have the requisite and rare experience, skills and contacts to represent successfully those infected by Q fever and its’ associated fatigue syndrome. We can, therefore, secure not only the correct level of compensation but, through our holistic approach, ensure the provision of appropriate investigations, treatment and rehabilitation and additional assistance to sufferers and their loved ones, to maximise the chances of a successful recovery.
Gary Boyd, Head of Gorvins’ Military Personal Injury department, is an acknowledged expert in the highly specialised field of military claims. Gary has a wealth of experience in dealing with military cases of this nature and will give you the specialist legal advice and support that you deserve.
To discuss your case with Gary you can call us on 0161 930 5117 or fill in our online enquiry form and let us call you back to see how we can help.
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