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The vector is the Amblyomma tick, which is endemic to sub-Saharan Africa and parts of the eastern Caribbean. We describe a middle-aged woman who returned from a mission trip to Zimbabwe with an influenzalike illness and inoculation eschar; she also had a history of travel to a game farm. Biopsy revealed a histopathologic pattern consistent with an infectious pathogenesis.

Immunohistochemical staining confirmed the presence of rickettsial organisms. In light of the patient's history, the clinical constellation of signs and symptoms, and the results of ancillary laboratory testing, a diagnosis of African tick bite fever was made.

Tick bite fever

Infections transmitted by dog ticks tend to be more severe than those acquired via ticks from the bushveld, possibly because they so often occur in middle-aged and elderly patients. Serological tests have recently indicated that there are antigenic differences between 'suburban' and 'bushveld' strains; these clearly require further study. National Center for Biotechnology Information , U. Didn't get the message?

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Add to My Bibliography. In various parts of the world, different species of tick and Rickettsia are involved in causing tick-bite fever, and these forms of the disease are also given different names see table. In South Africa, the cause of tick bite fever is either R. As mentioned above, the organisms are transmitted in the saliva of an infected tick when it bites humans.

Alternatively, if the tick is crushed on your skin, the rickettsias may be able to enter through a small abrasion. Being bitten by ticks usually occurs in rural or wilderness areas i.

African tick bite fever: a not-so-uncommon illness in international travelers. - PubMed - NCBI

The ticks that are able to harbour the organism belong to either the Amblyomma, Dermacentor or the Rhipicephalus family of ticks. The Amblyomma ticks actively seek out humans to feed on, while Rhipicephalus ticks tend to lie in wait on grass, and will bite you if you walk past. If you get bitten by an infected tick, the incubation period the period between being infected and displaying symptoms is about five to seven days.


  1. African Tick-Bite Fever | Disease Directory | Travelers' Health | CDC.
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Symptoms can vary, depending partly on the organism involved. Your age and underlying health may also influence the severity of the infection.

African tick bite fever: a not-so-uncommon illness in international travelers.

Typical features may include the presence of a black mark where the bite occurred, and fever, severe headache and a rash. The black mark at the site of the tick bite is called an eschar or a tache noir , and looks like a small ulcer mm in diameter with a black centre. It may look something like a spider bite. The eschars can be single or multiple and can sometimes be very difficult to find. The eschar usually appears once the fever appears, as does the headache and malaise general feeling of ill-health.

Lymph nodes near the eschar may be enlarged. A rash is usually, but not always, a feature of tick bite fever it is supposedly less likely to occur in someone infected by R. It typically starts on the limbs and spreads to the trunk, and can involve the entire body, including the palms of the hands and soles of the feet.

MJM Signs & Symptoms of Tick Bites

African tick bite fever is usually mild, and death and serious complications are very uncommon. This is in contrast to Rocky Mountain spotted fever, which is usually a more severe illness.