Rickettsia felis: from a rare disease in the USA to a common cause of fever in sub-Saharan Africa

Authors

  • P. Parola

    1. Unité de Recherche en Maladies Infectieuses et Tropicales Emergentes (URMITE), UMR CNRS 6236 – IRD, WHO Collaborative Center for Rickettsioses and Other Arthropod Borne Bacterial Diseases, Faculté de Médecine, Université de la Méditerranée, Marseille Cedex 5, France
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Corresponding author: P. Parola, Unité de Recherche en Maladies Infectieuses et Tropicales Emergentes (URMITE), UMR CNRS-IRD 6236-198, Faculté de Médecine, 27 Boulevard Jean Moulin, 13385 Marseille Cedex 5, France
E-mail: philippe.parola@univmed.fr

Abstract

Clin Microbiol Infect 2011; 17: 996–1000

Abstract

Rickettsia felis is a spotted fever group rickettsia that has been definitely described in 2002. Within the last 20 years, there have been a growing number of reports implicating R. felis as a human pathogen, parallel to the fast-growing reports of the worldwide detection of R. felis in arthropod hosts, mainly the cat flea Ctenocephalides felis felis. R. felis is now known as the agent of the so-called flea-borne spotted fever, with more than 70 cases documented in the literature. Recently, two studies respectively conducted in Senegal and Kenya, have challenged the importance of R. felis infection in patients with unexplained fever in sub-Saharan Africa. We focus here on the epidemiological and clinical aspects of R. felis infection. More studies are needed, including the study of other arthropod vectors, but it can be speculated that R. felis infection might be an important neglected agent of fever in sub-Saharan Africa.

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