A vaccine is all it takes to avoid Q fever
JOSEPHINE Howell's life was changed forever when she fell ill with Qfever.
The 19-year-old lost 12 months to the disease, and Qfever's powerful consequences still affect her to this day.
Others can avoid going through Ms Howell's pain with a simple vaccine, and Monto and Eidsvold Family Practice is taking interest now.
"With prevention out there, you shouldn't have to go through what I had to go through," she said.
"It has been a big setback and slowed me down. I didn't know I'd be living the way I am now.
"Getting Q fever can be as simple as breathing in the wrong bacteria from the wind.
"Like, you could be walking around the saleyards and get it that way.
"At the time I got sick, the vaccine wasn't readily available in Monto and nobody could tell me where I could get it."
It all started with flu symptoms for Ms Howell.
Soon after turning 18, she began feeling body aches all over and fell very sick.
"You're in that much pain it all becomes the same after a while - even your toenails ache," Ms Howell said.
"It took eight weeks to get a blood test to say I got it, and when I got antibiotics, it was too late."
The disease can be treated with antibiotics if caught in the early stage.
About a quarter of sufferers never fully recover, continuing on to develop long-term chronic fatigue.
Although the journey to where she is now was tough, Ms Howell says those diagnosed with the disease need to stay positive.
"If you are to get Q fever, I would just say don't think it's the end of the world," she said.
"Look after yourself and it is a time that it is okay to be selfish.
"Eat well, rest, and don't push yourself too hard as you can go backwards any time.
"It is an immune fight every day.
"It has given me drive to live the life I want and not take anything for granted."
Monto Family Practice clinical nurse Anita Salisbury said it was important to act early to avoid heading into the disease's serious stage.
"It is always best to see your GP if flu symptoms persist," she said.
"Immunisation is always the best defence, not only for Qfever but all conditions we can vaccinate against.
"Q fever presents much like influenza but antibiotic treatment is essential in an attempt to avoid the onset of chronic Q fever."