Serological evidence of exposure to Rickettsia felis and Rickettsia typhi in Australian veterinarians
AuthorTeoh, YT; Hii, SF; Stevenson, MA; Graves, S; Rees, R; Stenos, J; Traub, RJ
Source TitleParasites and Vectors
PublisherBIOMED CENTRAL LTD
Agriculture and Food Systems
Document TypeJournal Article
CitationsTeoh, Y. T., Hii, S. F., Stevenson, M. A., Graves, S., Rees, R., Stenos, J. & Traub, R. J. (2017). Serological evidence of exposure to Rickettsia felis and Rickettsia typhi in Australian veterinarians. PARASITES & VECTORS, 10 (1), https://doi.org/10.1186/s13071-017-2075-y.
Access StatusOpen Access
BACKGROUND: Rickettsia felis and Rickettsia typhi are emerging arthropod-borne zoonoses causing fever and flu-like symptoms. Seroprevalence and risk factors associated with exposure to these organisms was explored in Australian veterinarians. METHODS: One hundred and thirty-one veterinarians from across Australia were recruited to participate in a cross-sectional survey. Veterinarians provided a single blood sample and answered a questionnaire on potential risk factors influencing their exposure to R. felis and R. typhi. Indirect microimmunofluorescence antibody testing (IFAT) was used to identify evidence of serological exposure of the participants to R. felis and R. typhi. Results were analyzed and a logistical regression model performed to predict risk factors associated with seropositivity. RESULTS: In total, 16.0% of participants were seropositive to R. felis, 4.6% to R. typhi and 35.1% seropositive to both, where cross-reactivity of the IFAT between R. felis and R. typhi precluded a definitive diagnosis. Veterinarians residing within the south-eastern states of Victoria and Tasmania were at a higher risk of exposure to R. felis or generalised R. felis or R. typhi exposure. Older veterinarians and those that recommended flea treatment to their clients were found to be significantly protected from exposure. CONCLUSIONS: The high exposure to R. felis amongst veterinary professionals suggests that flea-borne spotted fever is an important cause of undifferentiated fever conditions that may not be adequately recognized in Australia.
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