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Detection of Antibodies to Spotted Fever Group Rickettsiae and Arboviral Coinfections in Febrile Individuals in 2014–2015 in Southern Coastal Ecuador

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  • 1 University of Rochester Medical Center, Rochester, New York;
  • | 2 State University of New York Upstate Medical University, Syracuse, New York;
  • | 3 University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida;
  • | 4 Universidad Técnica Machala, Machala, Ecuador;
  • | 5 InterAmerican Institute for Global Change Research (IAI), Montevideo, Uruguay;
  • | 6 State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry, Syracuse, New York

Tick-borne diseases (TBDs) are a growing public health threat and are increasingly identified as the cause of undifferentiated febrile illness. There is a significant gap in our understanding of ticks and their associated pathogens in Ecuador. An arboviral surveillance study allowed us to explore potential exposure to TBDs in febrile subjects. We tested plasma samples from 222 febrile subjects for spotted fever group rickettsial (SFGR) antibodies from southern coastal Ecuador in 2014–2015 via ELISA. Fifty-five (25%) subjects had evidence of anti-SFRG IgG or IgM antibodies. Although attempts to detect Rickettsia species in plasma by polymerase chain reaction were unsuccessful, these preliminary data suggest the possibility of endemic SFGR transmission in Ecuador. To better understand the burden and entomological risk for TBDs in Ecuador, future studies should expand TBD surveillance in humans, document common human-biting ticks, and measure pathogen carriage rates in questing ticks.

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Author Notes

Address correspondence to Brian F. Leydet, Department of Environmental and Forest Biology, State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry, 1 Forestry Dr., Syracuse, NY 13210. E-mail: bfleydet@esf.edu

Financial support: This study was supported by the Department of Defense Global Emerging Infection Surveillance (GEIS) grant (P0220_13_OT), the Department of Medicine of SUNY Upstate Medical University, and SUNY-ESF.

Authors’ addresses: Lorne Farovitch, Department of Translational Biomedical Science, University of Rochester Medical Center, Rochester, NY, E-mail: lorne_farovitch@urmc.rochester.edu. Rachel Sippy, State University of New York Upstate Medical University, Syracuse, NY, and Department of Medical Geography, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL, E-mail: sippyr@upstate.edu. Efraín Beltrán-Ayala, Department of Medicine, Universidad Técnica Machala, Machala, Ecuador, E-mail: felixbeltran57@hotmail.com. Timothy P. Endy and Anna M. Stewart-Ibarra, State University of New York Upstate Medical University, Syracuse, NY, E-mails: endyt@upstate.edu and stewarta@upstate.edu. Brian F. Leydet Jr., Department of Environmental and Forest Biology, State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry, Syracuse, NY, E-mail: bfleydet@esf.edu.

These authors contributed equally to this work.

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