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Complement fixation test to C. burnetii

This test is used to detect the presence of antibodies to Coxiella burnetii (C. burnetii) bacteria in the blood. This highly infectious bacteria causes Q fever.

  • How the test is performed

    Antibodies defend the body against bacteria, viruses, fungi, and other foreign substances, called antigens. Certain cells cause the body to produce antibodies during an active infection.

    When you first become sick, few antibodies may be detected. Antibody production increases during the course of an infection. Antibody tests are often repeated several weeks after the first test is done, so that a comparison can be made to the first test. A rising level of antibody to a specific infectious agent tells the health care provider that you have an active infection.

    The complement fixation test looks to see if the body has produced antibodies to a specific antigen -- in this case, the C.burnetii bacteria. If the antibodies are present, they stick, or "fix" themselves, to the antigen, that's why the test is called "fixation."

    The test specifically looks for the antibodies to C. burnetii in the clear liquid portion of the blood called the serum. (The general term for such a technique is called serology.) If you have consistently high levels of antibodies to C. Burnetii, this indicates chronic Q fever.

  • How to prepare for the test

    No special preparation is necessary for this test.

  • How the test will feel

    A needle is inserted to draw blood. You may feel moderate pain, or only a prick or stinging sensation. Afterward, there may be some throbbing.

  • Why the test is performed

    The test is performed to detect Q fever.

  • Normal Values

    The absence of antibodies to C. burnetii is normal.

    Note: Normal value ranges may vary slightly among different laboratories. Talk to your doctor about the meaning of your specific test results

  • What abnormal results mean

    An abnormal result means you have a current infection with C. burnetii, or that you have been exposed to the bacteria in the past. People with past exposure may have antibodies, even if they are not aware that they were exposed. Further testing may be needed to distinguish between current, previous, and chronic infection.

  • What the risks are

    Veins and arteries vary in size from one patient to another and from one side of the body to the other. Obtaining a blood sample from some people may be more difficult than from others.

    Other risks associated with having blood drawn are slight but may include:

    • Excessive bleeding
    • Fainting or feeling light-headed
    • Hematoma (blood accumulating under the skin)
    • Infection (a slight risk any time the skin is broken)
  • References
    Raoult D. Rickettsioses. In: Goldman L, Ausiello D, eds. Cecil Medicine. 23rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier. 2007: chap 348.

Review Date: 5/30/2009

Reviewed By: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine; Jatin M. Vyas, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor in Medicine, Harvard Medical School, Assistant in Medicine, Division of Infectious Disease, Department of Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- 2014 A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
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Christie Clinic Christie Clinic at the Family Medical Center in Paris Photo Christie Clinic at the Family Medical Center in Paris
727 East Court Street Paris, IL 61944 Dermatology: 366-1248; Vein and Vascular: 366-2670
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101 West University Avenue Champaign, IL 61820 Main Phone: (217) 366-1200
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1801 West Windsor Road Champaign, IL 61822 (217) 366-8000
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209 West Borman Drive Rantoul, IL 61866 (217) 892-9671
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1001 Commercial Drive Mahomet, IL 61853 Main Number: (217) 586-6600 Convenient Care: (217)366-8130
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300 North Main Street Tuscola, IL 61953 (217) 253-9258
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501 North Dunlap Avenue Savoy, IL 61874 Transformations: (217) 366-7460 Internal Medicine: (217) 366-5434 Ophthalmology: (217) 366-1250
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