Rickettsioses and Q fever in travelers (2004-2013)

Travel Med Infect Dis. 2014 Sep-Oct;12(5):443-58. doi: 10.1016/j.tmaid.2014.08.006. Epub 2014 Sep 16.


Rickettsioses (also called typhus) are associated with arthropods, including ticks, mites, fleas, and lice, although Q fever is more frequently acquired through the inhalation of contaminated aerosols or the consumption of milk. These zoonoses first emerged in the field of travel medicine 20 years ago. Here, we review rickettsioses and Q fever in travelers, highlighting cases reported in the past decade. African tick bite fever and Mediterranean spotted fever are the two most frequent spotted fevers. While the presentation of these fevers is typically benign, cardiac and neurological complications due to African tick bite fever have been reported, and Mediterranean spotted fever has been complicated by multi-organ failure and death in a few cases. Murine typhus and Q fever remain difficult to recognize and diagnose because these illnesses often present with only fever. New molecular tools, particularly when deployed with samples obtained from eschar swabs, might be easily implemented in laboratories with PCR facilities. Doxycycline must be introduced upon clinical suspicion of rickettsioses or Q fever and should be considered in cases of fever of unknown origin in travelers who are returning from at-risk geographic areas.

Keywords: Q fever; Rickettsioses; Travel; Typhus.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Q Fever*
  • Rickettsia Infections*
  • Travel Medicine*
  • Travel*
  • Young Adult