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Scand J Infect Dis. 2006;38(2):114-8.

Sub-acute neuropathy in patients with African tick bite fever.

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  • 1Université de la Méditerranée, Marseille, France.


African tick bite fever (ATBF) caused by Rickettsia africae is an emerging health problem in travellers to sub-Saharan Africa. We here present 6 patients with evidence of long-lasting sub-acute neuropathy following ATBF contracted during safari trips to southern Africa. Three patients developed radiating pain, paresthaesia and/or motor weakness of extremities, 2 had hemi-facial pain and paresthaesia, and 1 developed unilateral sensorineural hearing loss. When evaluated 3-26 months after symptom onset, cerebrospinal fluid samples from 5 patients were negative for R. africae PCR and serology, but revealed elevated protein content in 3 and mild pleocytosis in 1 case. Despite extensive investigations, no plausible alternative causes of neuropathy could be identified. Treatment with doxycycline in 2 patients had no clinical effect. Given the current increase of international safari tourism to sub-Saharan Africa, more cases of sub-acute neuropathy following ATBF may well be encountered in Europe and elsewhere in the y to come.

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