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Concept: Rocky Mountain spotted fever


BACKGROUND: Although an initial IFA-IgG titer greater or equal to 1/64 or 1/128 is considered positive in presumptive diagnosis, in clinical practice in an endemic setting for rickettsioses in Sri Lanka, some patients with IFA-IgG titer of 1/128 for either spotted fever group (SFG) or scrub typhus (ST) did not respond to treatment. FINDINGS: To determine a clinically helpful diagnostic algorithm, IFA-IgG results of serologically confirmed treatment responders were analyzed in relation to duration of illness at sampling.Of 146 suspected SFG, 3 responders of 25 patients had titers <=1/128 with < 7 days of illness while all 9 with titers >=1/256 responded (false negative with 1/256 cutoff was 12%, false positive was 0%). For illness > 7 days, the false negative and positive rates were 4.3% (3/59) and 11.3% (6/53). Of 115 suspected ST, false negative and positive rates with >=1/256 cutoff at <7 days of illness were (2/15) and 0% (0/8) respectively while > 7 days, false negative and positive rates were 2% (1/51) and 0% (0/42). CONCLUSIONS: For clinical decision making, duration of illness at sampling is important in interpreting serology results in an endemic setting. If sample is obtained <=7 day of illness, an IgG titer of <=1/128 requires a follow up sample in the diagnosis and > 7 days of illness, a single >=1/256 titer is diagnostic for all ST and 90% of SFG.

Concepts: Epidemiology, Infectious disease, Rickettsia, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Sri Lanka, Inequality, Typhus, Equality


Rhipicephalus sanguineus, commonly known as the brown dog tick, is one of the most widely distributed species of tick. In dogs, it can cause anemia and provide the transmission of pathogenic microorganisms such as Babesia canis, Ehrlichia canis, Hepatozoon canis, Anaplasma platys, and Mycoplasma haemocanis. To man, it can transmit the intracellular parasites Rickettsia rickettsii and Rickettsia conorii, the causative agents of the Rocky Mountain spotted fever in the Americas and Mediterranean and spotted fever in Europe and North Africa. Its control is performed by applying synthetic formulations composed of pyrethroids; however, continued use of these products results in environmental damage and acquisition of resistance. Alternatively, studies with botanical insecticides have been increasingly recurrent. Therefore, this study aimed to test the efficacy of essential oil of Tagetes patula, a ruderal species widely described in the literature for its insecticidal properties, in engorged females of R. sanguineus by the adults immersion test (AIT) and impregnated paper disk test (IPDT). The essential oil used, through gas chromatography coupled to mass spectrometry, revealed the presence of 55 compounds, being the 4-vinyl guaiacol and gamma terpinene the majority ones. The AIT compared to the IPDT was more efficient in inhibiting oviposition of tick; however, the eggs laid by the females submitted to saturated atmosphere with essential oil, from IPDT, not hatched, interrupted their development cycle. Besides being a pioneer work, the results presented here contributes to new researches, aiming the incorporation of essential oil in an acaricide for use in the environment.

Concepts: Rickettsia, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Acari, Babesiosis, Dog health, Rhipicephalus sanguineus, Boutonneuse fever, Tagetes patula


To evaluate whether cosmetically relevant dental effects occurred among children who had received doxycycline for treatment of suspected Rocky Mountain spotted fever (RMSF).

Concepts: Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Doxycycline, Idaho


Rickettsia montanensis has long been considered a nonpathogenic member of the spotted fever group rickettsiae. However, the infection potential of R. montanensis is being revisited in light of its recent association with a case of human infection in the United States and the possibility that additional cases may have been misdiagnosed as Rocky Mountain spotted fever. To this end, DNA was extracted from American dog ticks (Dermacentor variabilis) removed from Department of Defense (DoD) personnel and their dependents at DoD medical treatment facilities (MTFs) during 2002-2012 (n = 4792). These 4792 samples were analyzed for the presence of R. montanensis (n = 136; 2.84%) and all vector DNA was confirmed to be of D. variabilis origin using a novel Dermacentor genus-specific quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction procedure, Derm, and a novel Dermacentor species multilocus sequence typing assay. To assess the risk of R. montanensis infection, the positive and negative samples were geographically mapped utilizing MTF site locations. Tick localities were imported into a geographical information systems (GIS) program, ArcGIS, for mapping and analysis. The ecological niche modeling (ENM) program, Maxent, was used to estimate the probability of tick presence in eastern United States using locations of both R. montanensis-positive and -negative ticks, climate, and elevation data. The ENM for R. montanensis-positive D. variabilis estimated high probabilities of the positive ticks occurring in two main areas, including the northern Midwest and mid-Atlantic portions of the northeastern regions of United States, whereas the R. montanensis-negative D. variabilis tick model showed a wider estimated range. The results suggest that R. montanensis-positive and -negative D. variabilis have different ranges where humans may be at risk and are influenced by similar and different factors.

Concepts: DNA, Polymerase chain reaction, United States, Geographic information system, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Tick, Dermacentor variabilis, United States Department of Defense


Certain Bartonella species are known to cause afebrile bacteremia in humans and other mammals, including B. quintana, the agent of trench fever, and B. henselae, the agent of cat scratch disease. Reports have indicated that animal-associated Bartonella species may cause paucisymptomatic bacteremia and endocarditis in humans. We identified potentially zoonotic strains from 6 Bartonella species in samples from patients who had chronic, subjective symptoms and who reported tick bites. Three strains were B. henselae and 3 were from other animal-associated Bartonella spp. (B. doshiae, B. schoenbuchensis, and B. tribocorum). Genomic analysis of the isolated strains revealed differences from previously sequenced Bartonella strains. Our investigation identifed 3 novel Bartonella spp. strains with human pathogenic potential and showed that Bartonella spp. may be the cause of undifferentiated chronic illness in humans who have been bitten by ticks.

Concepts: Human, Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Mammal, Tick, Bacterial diseases, Bartonella, Bartonella henselae


Rickettsia philipii (type strain “Rickettsia 364D”), the etiologic agent of Pacific Coast tick fever (PCTF), is transmitted to people by the Pacific Coast tick, Dermacentor occidentalis. Following the first confirmed human case of PCTF in 2008, 13 additional human cases have been reported in California, more than half of which were pediatric cases. The most common features of PCTF are the presence of at least one necrotic lesion known as an eschar (100%), fever (85%), and headache (79%); four case-patients required hospitalization and four had multiple eschars. Findings presented here implicate the nymphal or larval stages of D. occidentalis as the primary vectors of R. philipii to people. Peak transmission risk from ticks to people occurs in late summer. Rickettsia philipii DNA was detected in D. occidentalis ticks from 15 of 37 California counties. Similarly, non-pathogenic Rickettsia rhipicephali DNA was detected in D. occidentalis in 29 of 38 counties with an average prevalence of 12.0% in adult ticks. In total, 5,601 ticks tested from 2009 through 2015 yielded an overall R. philipii infection prevalence of 2.1% in adults, 0.9% in nymphs and a minimum infection prevalence of 0.4% in larval pools. Although most human cases of PCTF have been reported from northern California, acarological surveillance suggests that R. philipii may occur throughout the distribution range of D. occidentalis.

Concepts: Disease, Virus, Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, California, Pacific Ocean, Ixodidae, Dermacentor variabilis


BACKGROUND: Crimean-Congo Haemorrhagic Fever (CCHF) is a zoonotic viral disease transmitted by ixodid tick bites, mainly of Hyalomma spp., or through contact with blood/tissues from infected people or animals. CCHF is endemic in the Balkan area, including Bulgaria, where it causes both sporadic cases and community outbreaks. METHODS: We described trends of CCHF in Bulgaria between 1997 and 2009 and investigated the associations between CCHF incidence and a selection of environmental factors using a zeroinflated modelling approach. RESULTS: A total of 159 CCHF cases (38 women and 121 men) were identified between 1997 and 2009. The incidence was 0.13 cases per 100,000 population/year with a fatality rate of 26%. An epidemic peak was detected close to the Turkish border in the summer of 2002. Most cases were reported between April and September. Increasing mean temperature, Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI), savannah-type land coverage or habitat fragmentation increased significantly the incidence of CCHF in the CCHF-affected areas. Similar to that observed in Turkey, we found that areas with warmer temperatures in the autumn prior to the case-reporting year had an increased probability of reporting zero CCHF cases. CONCLUSIONS: We identified environmental correlates of CCHF incidence in Bulgaria that may support the prospective implementation of public health interventions.

Concepts: Epidemiology, Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Balkans, Tick


Migratory birds have the potential to transport exotic vectors and pathogens of human and animal health importance across vast distances. We systematically examined birds that recently migrated to the United States from the Neotropics for ticks. We screened both ticks and birds for tick-borne pathogens including Rickettsia species and Borrelia burgdorferi. Over two spring seasons (2013-2014), 3.56% of birds (n = 3,844) representing 42.35% of species examined (n= 85) were infested by ticks. Ground foraging birds with reduced fuel stores were most commonly infested. Eight tick species were identified including seven in the genus Amblymma of which only Ambylomma maculatum/triste is known to be established in the United States. Most ticks on birds (67%) were Neotropical species with ranges in Central and South America. Additionally, a single Ixodes genus tick was detected. A total of 29% of ticks (n= 137) and no avian blood samples (n= 100), were positive for infection with Rickettsia species, including Rickettsia parkeri, an emerging cause of spotted fever in humans in the southern United States, a species in the group of Rickettsia monacensis, as well as uncharacterized species and endosymbionts of unknown pathogenicity. No avian tick or blood samples tested positive for Borrelia burgdorferi, the etiologic agent of Lyme disease. Extrapolation of our findings suggests that anywhere from 4 to 39 million exotic Neotropical ticks are transported to the United States annually on migratory songbirds, with uncertain consequences for human and animal health if the current barriers to their establishment and spread are overcome.

Concepts: Human, United States, Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Bird, Tick, Ixodes scapularis, Borrelia burgdorferi


Patients seeking medical care with erythema migrans or flu-like symptoms after suspected or observed tick bite in the southeast of Sweden and previously investigated for Borrelia spp. and/or Anaplasma sp. were retrospectively examined for serological evidence of rickettsial infection (Study 1). Twenty of 206 patients had IgG and/or IgM antibodies to Rickettsia spp. equal to or higher than the cut-off titre of 1:64. Seven of these 20 patients showed seroconversion indicative of recent or current infection and 13 patients had titres compatible with past infection, of which five patients were judged as probable infection. Of 19 patients with medical records, 11 were positive for Borrelia spp. as well, and for Anaplasma sp., one was judged as positive. Five of the 19 patients had antibodies against all three pathogens. Erythema migrans or rash was observed at all combinations of seroreactivity, with symptoms including fever, muscle pain, headache and respiratory problems. The results were compared by screening an additional 159 patients (Study 2) primarily sampled for the analysis of Borrelia spp. or Mycoplasma pneumoniae. Sixteen of these patients were seroreactive for Rickettsia spp., of which five were judged as recent or current infection. Symptoms of arthritis, fever, cough and rash were predominant. In 80 blood donors without clinical symptoms, approximately 1 % were seroreactive for Rickettsia spp., interpreted as past infection. The study shows that both single and co-infections do occur, which illustrate the complexity in the clinical picture and a need for further studies to fully understand how these patients should best be treated.

Concepts: Immune system, Virus, Rickettsiales, Symptoms, Influenza, Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Common cold


In the United States, all previously reported cases of Rickettsia parkeri rickettsiosis have been linked to transmission by the Gulf Coast tick (Amblyomma maculatum). Here we describe 1 confirmed and 1 probable case of R. parkeri rickettsiosis acquired in a mountainous region of southern Arizona, well beyond the recognized geographic range of A. maculatum ticks. The likely vector for these 2 infections was identified as the Amblyomma triste tick, a Neotropical species only recently recognized in the United States. Identification of R. parkeri rickettsiosis in southern Arizona demonstrates a need for local ecologic and epidemiologic assessments to better understand geographic distribution and define public health risk. Education and outreach aimed at persons recreating or working in this region of southern Arizona would improve awareness and promote prevention of tickborne rickettsioses.

Concepts: Public health, United States, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, U.S. state, Gulf War, Southern United States, Louisiana, Gulf Coast of the United States