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Clin Microbiol Infect. 2002 Dec;8(12):763-72.

Human granulocytic ehrlichiosis in Europe.

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Internal Medicine and Infectious Diseases Service, Hospital de La Rioja, LogroƱo, Spain.


Ehrlichiosis comprises a group of emerging tick-borne infectious diseases caused by obligate intracellular Gram-negative bacteria that infect leukocytes. Infections caused by members of the genus Ehrlichia have been described in animals and humans, but to date there are no convincing reports of the presence of other types of human ehrlichiosis different from human granulocytic ehrlichiosis (HGE) in Europe. The European vector is the same as that of Lyme borreliosis, the hard tick Ixodes ricinus, and HGE has a similar epidemiology to that of Borrelia burgdorferi infection. Across Europe, I. ricinus is infected to a variable extent (0.4-66.7%) with the causative agent Ehrlichia (Anaplasma) phagocytophila genogroup, and since its first description in Slovenia in 1997, details of 15 patients have been published. Diagnosis requires careful consideration of all circumstances and symptoms (history of tick bite and the presence of a flu-like syndrome with variable degrees of anemia, thrombocytopenia, and leukopenia, and elevated liver enzymes). Some differences can be seen between US and European HGE patients. European HGE cases have a less severe course, and the presence of morulae is uncommon. In Europe, verification of HGE has been based on PCR and immunofluorescence antibody tests, because no isolation from humans has been reported.

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