Rickettsial Antibody Prevalence in Southern Israel: IgG Antibodies to Coxiella Burnetii, Rickettsia Typhi, and Spotted fever Group Rickettsiae among Urban- and Rural-Dwelling and Bedouin Women

Ellis M. GrossMinistry of Health-Negev District, 84170 Beersheba, Israel

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Robert A. GoldwasserIsrael Institute for Biological Research, Nes Ziona, Israel

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Jacob E. BearmanEpidemiology and Health Evaluation Unit

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Israel SarovVirology Unit, Faculty of Health Sciences, Ben Gurion University of the Negev, Beersheba, Israel

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Batia SarovEpidemiology and Health Evaluation Unit

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Viola TorokMinistry of Health-Negev District, 84170 Beersheba, Israel

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Lechiam NagganEpidemiology and Health Evaluation Unit

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A retrospective serological survey was carried out using sera obtained from women at childbirth in the southern desert region of Israel to determine exposure experience to three rickettsial agents: Coxiella burnetii, Rickettsia typhi, and spotted fever group rickettsiae. Using the indirect fluorescent antibody method for determining IgG antibodies, it was found that about 40% of all sera examined demonstrated antibodies to one or more rickettsiae. Bedouin women appeared to be at greater risk of having antibodies to C. burnetii and spotted fever group rickettsiae than did Jewish residents of Beersheba, agricultural settlements, and development towns. The residents of development towns appeared to be at lower risk of developing antibodies to spotted fever group rickettsiae than did other populations sampled. Possible reasons for these differences are discussed.

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