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Epidemiology of Spotted Fever Group Rickettsioses and Acute Undifferentiated Febrile Illness in Villeta, Colombia

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  • 1 Grupo de Enfermedades Infecciosas, Departamento de Microbiología, Pontificia Universidad Javeriana, Bogotá, Colombia;
  • | 2 Programa de Pós-Graduação em Doenças Infecciosas, Centro de Ciências da Saúde, Universidade Federal do Espírito Santo, Vitória, ES, Brazil;
  • | 3 Grupo Parasitología Veterinaria, Facultad de Medicina Veterinaria y de Zootecnia, Universidad Nacional de Colombia, Bogotá, Colombia;
  • | 4 Departamento de Medicina Veterinária Preventiva e Saúde Animal, Faculdade de Medicina Veterinária e Zootecnia, Universidade de São Paulo, São Paulo, SP, Brazil;
  • | 5 Departamento de Medicina Veterinária, Universidade Federal de Viçosa, Viçosa, MG, Brazil;
  • | 6 Grupo Salud Pública Veterinaria, Departamento Salud Animal, Facultad de Medicina Veterinaria y de Zootecnia, Universidad Nacional de Colombia, Bogotá, Colombia;
  • | 7 Departamento de Biología, Pontificia Universidad Javeriana, Bogotá, Colombia;
  • | 8 Departamento de Enfermedades Infecciosas, Centro de Rickettsiosis y Enfermedades Transmitidas por Artrópodos Vectores, Hospital San Pedro–CIBIR, Logroño, Spain
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Etiology of acute undifferentiated febrile syndrome (AUFS) is often unknown, leading to inaccurate diagnosis and treatment. Villeta town has been identified as an endemic area for spotted fever group (SFG) rickettsioses but little is known about possible amplifier hosts and other Rickettsia species different from Rickettsia rickettsii. Besides, few studies have approached other AUFS etiologies in the region. We investigated the role of dengue, leptospirosis, rickettsioses, human anaplasmosis, and Q fever as possible causes of AUFS in patients from Villeta. Sera specimens and ticks from animals as well as ticks from vegetation were studied for the presence of different Rickettsia spp. Among 104 sera from patients with AUFS, 16.4%, 24.0%, and 2.9% patients seroconverted to dengue, Leptospira, and SFG Rickettsia, respectively, with a case of probable coinfection or cross-reaction with Anaplasma phagocytophilum. None of the samples were reactive for Coxiella burnetii. Sera samples from 74 horses, 118 dogs, and 62 bovines were collected and showed 33.8%, 14.4%, and 50.0% of seroprevalence for SFG Rickettsia, respectively. A total of 1,287 ixodid ticks were collected from animals/vegetation and processed in pools for polymerase chain reaction. Among them, 1.7% was positive for Rickettsia genes, and Rickettsia amblyommii, R. rickettsii, and Rickettsia spp. were found. These results confirm the circulation of dengue, different SFG Rickettsia species and the relevance of other etiologies like leptospirosis and human anaplasmosis. Further studies must identify different epidemiological variables to establish proper surveillance and control programs.

Author Notes

Address correspondence to Marylin Hidalgo, Departamento de Microbiología, Facultad de Ciencias, Pontificia Universidad Javeriana, Cra 7a No 43-82, Bogotá, Colombia. E-mail: hidalgo.m@javeriana.edu.co

Financial support: The study was supported by Departamento Administrativo de Ciencia, Tecnología e Innovación from Colombia (COLCIENCIAS, Code: 120351929098). Regulatory permits for this work were Permit in scientific research in biodiversity No. 005 of June 19, 2012, given by Corporación Autónoma Regional (CAR) de Cundinamarca and contract for access to genetic resources for scientific research without commercial interest No. 85 of 2013, given by Ministerio de Ambiente y Desarrollo Sostenible from Colombia.

Authors' addresses: Álvaro A. Faccini-Martínez, Programa de Pós-Graduação em Doenças Infecciosas, Centro de Ciências da Saúde, Universidade Federal do Espírito Santo, Vitória, ES, Brazil, E-mail: afaccini@gmail.com. Alejandro Ramírez-Hernández, Departamento de Medicina Veterinária Preventiva e Saúde Animal, Faculdade de Medicina Veterinária e Zootecnia, Universidade de São Paulo, São Paulo, SP, Brazil, E-mail: aramirezhe@unal.edu.co. Christian Barreto, Diego Millán, Elkin Valbuena, Andrea C. Sánchez-Alfonso, and Marylin Hidalgo, Grupo de Enfermedades Infecciosas, Departamento de Microbiología, Pontificia Universidad Javeriana, Bogotá, Colombia, E-mails: davidbarreto_02@hotmail.com, dmillan19@hotmail.com, notengokorreo8@hotmail.com, asanchez-a@javeriana.edu.co, and hidalgo.m@javeriana.edu.co. Elkin Forero-Becerra, Departamento de Medicina Veterinária, Universidade Federal de Viçosa, Viçosa, MG, Brazil, E-mail: egforerob@unal.edu.co. Wilson O. Imbacuán-Pantoja and Jesús A. Cortés-Vecino, Grupo Parasitología Veterinaria, Universidad Nacional de Colombia, Ciudad Universitaria, Bogotá, Colombia, E-mails: woimbacuanp@unal.edu.co and jacortesv@unal.edu.co. Luis J. Polo-Terán and Néstor Yaya-Lancheros, Grupo Salud Pública Veterinaria, Departamento Salud Animal, Facultad de Medicina Veterinaria y de Zootecnia, Universidad Nacional de Colombia, Bogotá, Colombia, E-mails: luijpolot@unal.edu.co and nyayal@unal.edu.co. Jorge Jácome, Departamento de Biología, Pontificia Universidad Javeriana, Bogotá, Colombia, E-mail: jacomej@javeriana.edu.co. Ana M. Palomar, Sonia Santibáñez, Aránzazu Portillo, and José A. Oteo, Infectious Diseases Department, Center of Rickettsioses and Arthropod-borne Diseases, Hospital San Pedro–CIBIR, Logroño, Spain, E-mails: ampalomar@riojasalud.es, ssantibanez@riojasalud.es aportillo@riojasalud.es, and jaoteo@riojasalud.es.

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