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Parasit Vectors. 2017 Mar 13;10(1):129. doi: 10.1186/s13071-017-2075-y.

Serological evidence of exposure to Rickettsia felis and Rickettsia typhi in Australian veterinarians.

Author information

1
Faculty of Veterinary and Agricultural Sciences, The University of Melbourne, Parkville, VIC, 3010, Australia. yen.teoh@unimelb.edu.au.
2
The Australian Rickettsial Reference Laboratory, University Hospital, Geelong, VIC, 3220, Australia.
3
Faculty of Veterinary and Agricultural Sciences, The University of Melbourne, Parkville, VIC, 3010, Australia.
4
Bayer Animal Health, Tingalpa, QLD, 4173, Australia.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Rickettsia felis and Rickettsia typhi are emerging arthropod-borne zoonoses causing fever and flu-like symptoms. Seroprevalence and risk factors associated with exposure to these organisms was explored in Australian veterinarians.

METHODS:

One hundred and thirty-one veterinarians from across Australia were recruited to participate in a cross-sectional survey. Veterinarians provided a single blood sample and answered a questionnaire on potential risk factors influencing their exposure to R. felis and R. typhi. Indirect microimmunofluorescence antibody testing (IFAT) was used to identify evidence of serological exposure of the participants to R. felis and R. typhi. Results were analyzed and a logistical regression model performed to predict risk factors associated with seropositivity.

RESULTS:

In total, 16.0% of participants were seropositive to R. felis, 4.6% to R. typhi and 35.1% seropositive to both, where cross-reactivity of the IFAT between R. felis and R. typhi precluded a definitive diagnosis. Veterinarians residing within the south-eastern states of Victoria and Tasmania were at a higher risk of exposure to R. felis or generalised R. felis or R. typhi exposure. Older veterinarians and those that recommended flea treatment to their clients were found to be significantly protected from exposure.

CONCLUSIONS:

The high exposure to R. felis amongst veterinary professionals suggests that flea-borne spotted fever is an important cause of undifferentiated fever conditions that may not be adequately recognized in Australia.

KEYWORDS:

Australia; Rickettsia; Rickettsia felis; Rickettsia typhi; flea-borne spotted fever; murine typhus; veterinarian

PMID:
28285586
PMCID:
PMC5346837
DOI:
10.1186/s13071-017-2075-y
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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