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Papers of the Week

2022 Dec 28

Infect Genet Evol

Emerging tick-borne spotted fever group rickettsioses in the Balkans.


Banović P, Díaz-Sánchez A A, Foucault-Simonin A, Mateos-Hernandez L, Wu-Chuang A, Galon C, Simin V, Mijatović D, Bogdan I, Corona-González B, Báez L C, Kulisz J, Woźniak A, Zając Z, Obregón D, Moutailler S, Cabezas-Cruz A
Infect Genet Evol. 2022 Dec 28:105400.
PMID: 36586459.


The impact of tick-borne pathogens (TBPs) on human health has increased in the last decades, since the incidence of emerging and re-emerging infectious and zoonotic tick-borne diseases has increased worldwide. Tick-borne rickettsiae of the Spotted Fever group (SFGR) are considered as emerging pathogens that can infect humans and cause a variety of non-specific clinical symptoms. Here, we report nine cases of atypical tick-borne diseases (9/460; 1.95%) that occurred over a period of four months (from 15 April 2021 to 16 August 2021) in Serbia, from which five cases were classified as confirmed SFGR infection, two cases as probable SFGR infection and two cases as suspected SFGR infection. Within cases of confirmed SFGR infection, R. helvetica was detected as the causative agent in two cases. The most common clinical finding was non-expanding persistent circular redness, followed by eschar and enlargement of regional lymph nodes, and pain at lesion site. Rickettsia outer membrane protein B (ompB) and citrate synthase (gltA) gene fragments were amplified from clinical samples and ticks attached to patients and IgG reacting with Rickettsia conorii antigen were detected in sera samples of patients, which are highly suggestive of exposure to SFGR. Surveillance and monitoring of rickettsial diseases in Serbia should continue and extended to new areas due to the increasing trend of clinical infections caused by SFGR in the country.