Volume 97, Issue 3
  • ISSN: 0002-9637
  • E-ISSN: 1476-1645



Spotted fever group (SFG) rickettsioses are endemic in Tennessee, with ∼2,500 cases reported during 2000–2012. Because of this substantial burden of disease, we performed a three-part evaluation of Tennessee's routine surveillance for SFG rickettsioses cases and deaths to assess the system's effectiveness. Tennessee Department of Health (TDH) SFG rickettsioses surveillance records were matched to three patient series: 1) patients with positive serologic specimens from a commercial reference laboratory during 2010–2011, 2) tertiary medical center patients with positive serologic tests during 2007–2013, and 3) patients identified from death certificates issued during 1995–2014 with SFG rickettsiosis–related causes of death. Chart reviews were performed and patients were classified according to the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists' case definition. Of 254 SFG –positive serologic specimens from the reference laboratory, 129 (51%) met the case definition for confirmed or probable cases of rickettsial disease after chart review. The sensitivity of the TDH surveillance system to detect cases was 45%. Of the 98 confirmed or probable cases identified from the medical center, the sensitivity of the TDH surveillance system to detect cases was 34%. Of 27 patients identified by death certificates, 12 (44%) were classified as confirmed or probable cases; four (33%) were reported to TDH, but none were correctly identified as deceased. Cases of SFG rickettsioses were underreported and fatalities not correctly identified. Efforts are needed to improve SFG rickettsiosis surveillance in Tennessee.


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  • Received : 21 Sep 2016
  • Accepted : 31 Jan 2017
  • Published online : 03 Jul 2017
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