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Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2003 Jun;990:285-94.

Mediterranean spotted fever in Portugal: risk factors for fatal outcome in 105 hospitalized patients.

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Centro de Estudos de Vectores e Doenças Infecciosas, Instituto Nacional de Saúde Dr. Ricardo Jorge, Aguas de Moura, Portugal.


Mediterranean spotted fever (MSF) is the most important tick-borne disease in Portugal. It is a notifiable disease and during 1989-2000 the annual incidence rate in Portugal was 9.8/10(5) inhabitants. Although recognized as a benign acute disease and treated mainly with ambulatory procedures, some cases are severe and fatalities have increased in the last few years. In 1997, MSF mortality became more evident in Beja, a Portuguese southern district, with a case fatality rate of 32.3% in hospitalized patients. Analysis of 55 variables regarding epidemiologic, clinical, laboratory, and therapeutic data of fatal and nonfatal MSF cases were compared to identify risk factors in 105 patients hospitalized in Beja District Hospital, between 1994 and 1998. It was statistically significant that the patients dying in 1997 were younger than those in other years. The risk of dying is statistically significant in those who presented with diabetes, vomiting, dehydration, and uremia. The interval between the onset of symptoms to administration of anti-rickettsial therapy was the same for all patients. Therapy delay, reported by some authors to be associated with mortality of MSF, was not a risk factor in our study. The patients who died in 1997 died faster than those in other years. The variables studied could not explain the higher mortality rates observed in our study. Although one may speculate that the pathogenic strain of Israeli tick typhus, isolated in 1997, could be responsible for this increase of fatality rate, inherited patient factors might also be strongly associated with mortality.

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