Rickettsioses in Europe

Microbes Infect. Nov-Dec 2015;17(11-12):834-8. doi: 10.1016/j.micinf.2015.09.009. Epub 2015 Sep 16.


Bacteria of the genera Rickettsia and Orientia (family rickettsiaceae, order rickettsiales) cause rickettsioses worldwide, and are transmitted by lice, fleas, ticks and mites. In Europe, only Rickettsia spp. cause rickettsioses. With improvement of hygiene, the risk of louse-borne rickettsiosis (epidemic typhus) is low in Europe. Nevertheless, recrudescent form of Rickettsia prowazekii infection persists. There could be an epidemic typhus outbreak if a body lice epidemic occurs under unfavorable sanitary conditions. In Europe, endemic typhus or Rickettsia typhi infection, transmitted by rats and fleas, causes febrile illness. At the beginning of this century, flea-borne spotted fever cases caused by Rickettsia felis were diagnosed. Flea-borne rickettsiosis should be suspected after flea bites if fever, with or without rash, is developed. Tick-borne rickettsioses are the main source of rickettsia infections in Europe. Apart from Rickettsia conorii, the Mediterranean Spotted Fever (MSF) agent, other Rickettsia spp. cause MSF-like: Rickettsia helvetica, Rickettsia monacensis, Rickettsia massiliae or Rickettsia aeschlimannii. In the 1990s, two 'new' rickettsioses were diagnosed: Lymphangitis Associated Rickettsiosis (LAR) caused by Rickettsia sibirica mongolitimonae, and Tick-Borne Lymphadenopathy/Dermacentor-Borne-Necrosis-Erythema-Lymphadenopathy/Scalp Eschar Neck Lymphadenopathy (TIBOLA/DEBONEL/SENLAT), caused by Rickettsia slovaca, Candidatus Rickettsia rioja and Rickettsia raoultii. Lastly, European reports about mite-borne rickettsiosis are scarce.

Keywords: DEBONEL/TIBOLA/SENLAT; Europe; Fleas; LAR; Lice; MSF; Mites; Rickettsialpox; Rickettsiosis; Ticks; Typhus.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Arthropods / microbiology
  • Europe / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Orientia tsutsugamushi*
  • Rickettsia / classification*
  • Rickettsia Infections / epidemiology*
  • Rickettsia Infections / microbiology
  • Scrub Typhus / epidemiology*
  • Scrub Typhus / microbiology