New Zealand Medical Services in Middle East and Italy
In February 1944 the ADMS 2 NZ Division drew attention to the considerable number of cases of atypical pneumonia in the Division. Some forty-eight cases had arisen in 7 Anti-Tank Regiment, while sporadic cases had occurred in other units. Early diagnosis had been difficult owing to the absence of clinical signs. The symptoms shown were high temperature, headache, and general malaise. Cough, sputum, cyanosis, and dyspnoea were not marked and the white blood count was low. At 2 General Hospital X-ray had revealed consolidation, generalised, at the apex, or at the interlobar fissure. A fan-shaped appearance of the consolidation was characteristic, as was increased bronchial marking. Marked toxicity was noted and few physical signs. The white count was about 5000. The temperature fell by gradual lysis over about six days.
The number of cases of pneumonia admitted to 2 General Hospital was 78 in February, 60 in March, 49 in April, 49 in May, and 28 in June. About half were found to be atypical in type.
Sulphonamides were not of any value in treatment and were also contra-indicated in the presence of leucopenia. No specific treatment was available. The condition was recognised later as Q fever, a virus disease which had been prevalent in the United States. It was followed by considerable debility and a long convalescence was necessary.