Q fever, a zoonosis caused by the gram-negative bacterium Coxiella burnetii, occurs worldwide and affects both humans and animals. Ruminants are considered to be the main source of infection of humans, with the main route of infection being through inhalation of the organism of fine-particle aerosols. Abortion is the main clinical sign in ruminants. During and after abortion, large quantities of the bacterium are shed via the placenta and other vaginal secretions. The bacterium may also be present in faeces and milk. The bacterium can survive for a long time in the environment after shedding and can be spread over long distances. Seroprevalence among cattle is rather high in the Netherlands and in many other countries. Infection is diagnosed by detecting antibodies against the bacterium or the bacterium itself by means of a PCR method. The efficacy of using antibiotics or vaccines for treatment or prevention of the disease in cattle is still unclear and there are currently no effective disease control programmes.