In the 1930s, outbreaks of a mysterious febrile illness occurred with abattoir workers in Queensland in Australia. Physicians investigated these patients but no cause was able to be identified. To complicate matters, there wasn’t any consistency between those who got sick, the area where they worked in the abattoir nor the animals with which they worked with. Hence, the name has come to us as ‘Q’ (meaning ‘Query’) fever.
It would take significant investigative skills and an outbreak in the United States to confirm the diagnosis. Today, the causative agent is called Coxiella burnetti.