African Tick Bite Fever in Travelers to Rural Sub-Equatorial Africa

Jensenius, Mogens; Fournier, Pierre-Edouard; Vene, Sirkka; Hoel, Terje; Hasle, Gunnar; Henriksen, Arne Z.; Hellum, Kjell Block; Raoult, Didier; Myrvang, Bjørn
June 2003
Clinical Infectious Diseases;6/1/2003, Vol. 36 Issue 11, p1411
Academic Journal
To estimate the incidence of, identify risk factors for, and describe the clinical presentation of travel-associated African tick bite fever (ATBF), a rapidly emerging disease in travel medicine, we prospectively studied a cohort of 940 travelers to rural sub-Equatorial Africa. Diagnosis was based on suicide polymerase chain reaction and the detection of specific antibodies to Rickettia africae in serum samples by multiple-antigen microimmunofluorescence assay, Western blotting, and cross-adsorption assays. Thirty-eight travelers, 4.0% of the cohort and 26.6% of those reporting flulike symptoms, had ATBF diagnosed. More than 80% of the patients had fever, headache, and/or myalgia, whereas specific clinical features such as inoculation eschars, lymphadenitis, cutaneous rash, and aphthous stomatitis were seen in ≤50% of patients. Game hunting, travel to southern Africa, and travel during November through April were found to be independent risk factors. Our study suggests that ATBF is not uncommon in travelers to rural sub-Saharan Africa and that many cases have a nonspecific presentation.


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