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Q fever expertise among human and veterinary health professionals in Germany – A stakeholder analysis of knowledge gaps

Q fever is a zoonosis caused by Coxiella burnetii. In Germany, the common sources of human infections include small ruminants that excrete the pathogen. Q fever in humans can be asymptomatic or nonspecific. However, severe disease progression is also possible, which can lead to death. Q fever in small ruminants is usually asymptomatic, although reproductive disorders may occur. To protect humans from Q fever, it is important that human and veterinary health professionals (practitioners/health authority employees) have comprehensive knowledge of the diagnosis, control and prevention of Q fever, and its zoonotic potential. To ensure and enhance this understanding, this stakeholder analysis assessed Q fever expertise in human and veterinary health professionals in Germany and investigated how these knowledge gaps can best be resolved.

For this purpose, an online survey and two focus group discussions were conducted with 836 and 18 participants, respectively. Knowledge gaps are due to a lack of awareness of Q fever, especially among human health practitioners. Moreover, colleagues who have heard about Q fever still lack the necessary cross-species knowledge to successfully diagnose, control and prevent this zoonosis. Additionally, differences exist between stakeholders regarding their work context and the region in which they work.

In this study, stakeholders in southwestern Germany had slightly better Q fever knowledge than their colleagues in North-eastern Germany. In addition, information sources aimed at resolving knowledge gaps involve direct conversations between the stakeholders, as well as reading materials and seminars. Each of these information sources should focus on interdisciplinary resources to strengthen the cooperation between human and veterinary health professionals and to raise awareness of the strengths of each stakeholder group. These results have already been implemented by the Q-GAPS project, with goals of raising awareness of Q fever and filling knowledge gaps.

Abstract taken from: Fenja Winter und Amely Campe, A stakeholder analysis of knowledge gaps, PLoS One, 2022 Mar 3;17(3):e0264629.

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