Source: https://www.news.com.au/national/que...fabdf4c5fbab99


Mysterious ‘dust virus’ almost kills Queensland boy
When Beau Beissel complained of feeling unwell last August, his mum had no idea how close he would come to losing his life.
Beverley Hadgraft
news.com.auFebruary 6, 201910:31pm

t was a Thursday afternoon in August last year when nine-year-old Beau Beissel complained of feeling unwell.

His mum, Bec, thinking it was a passing virus, kept him off school. She had no idea of the drama about to unfold — or of the incredible battle they would face to get Beau diagnosed.

“You could make a movie out of it,” she says now. “It was that dramatic.”

By Sunday, Beau’s high temperature, sore joints and stomach pains hadn’t eased, so Bec took him to their local hospital in Roma, Queensland. They too diagnosed a virus, said he’d be better in a few days and sent him home.

However, when the little boy developed temperatures of up to 41°C and his stomach pains became excruciating, Bec took him to their GP.

Dr Rosie Geraghty was aware the Beissels lived on a cattle farm and as a rural GP with special training she immediately suspected Q Fever, a rare disease that can live in dust and soil for years and is becoming more common as the country plunges further into drought. By this time Beau was so ill, however, he needed to be in hospital.

THE BATTLE FOR A DIAGNOSIS

Dr Geraghty sent him to Emergency with a referral and a pathology form requesting a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) Q Fever test. Crucially, that request was ignored.

The PCR test is relatively new and not all pathology labs offer it, but it produces an accurate result for Q fever within a few days of the patient becoming unwell.

However, the hospital instead conducted a serology test. Although used for many years, the test has a failing. It works by detecting antibodies in the blood produced in response to the Q Fever microbe. If a patient’s immune system takes time to respond to that microbe — as often happens — the test will initially come back negative even if the patient does have Q Fever...