RIVM has investigated for which groups screening for chronic Q-fever might be cost-effective. Screening is only cost-effective for people with certain risk factors living in areas where Q-fever occurred between 2007 and 2010. This regards people with specific cardiovascular diseases or a weakened immune system. For non-high risk groups or for other areas, screening for chronic Q-fever is not cost-effective.

Advice on Q-fever screening

A number of civic groups have requested that a screening programme should be set up so that people can be traced early before they become chronically ill. A group of experts has examined this issue and asked RIVM to provide technical support. If the decision were made to provide screening, the experts advise only setting up a screening programme for the groups for which screening is cost-effective. The organisation of such programme is not included in the report. It has not been investigated how this can be introduced within the regular health care for specific groups.

When is screening cost-effective?

If people are detected at an early stage, they can be treated before serious signs of disease arise. This results in health gains expressed in QALYs (quality-adjusted life years), a measure that represents life years in good health. Moreover, timely treatment of affected people saves health care costs. On the other hand, there are costs related to the screening programme itself, additional medical examinations and the early treatments. If a preventive treatment costs less than € 20,000 per QALY , it is considered cost-effective.