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Seroprevalence of antibodies to Rickettsia typhi in the Waikato region of New Zealand

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journal contribution
posted on 2024-06-03, 07:35 authored by MY Lim, P Weinstein, A Bell, T Hambling, DM Tompkins, D Slaney
The first reported New Zealand-acquired case of murine typhus occurred near Auckland in 1989. Since then, 72 locally acquired cases have been recorded from northern New Zealand. By 2008, on the basis of the timing and distribution of cases, it appeared that murine typhus was escalating and spreading southwards. To explore the presence of Rickettsia typhi in the Waikato region, we conducted a seroprevalence study, using indirect immunofluorescence, Western blot, and cross-adsorption assays of blood donor samples. Of 950 human sera from Waikato, 12 (1·3%) had R. typhi antibodies. The seroprevalence for R. typhi was slightly higher in northern Waikato (1·4%) compared to the south (1·2%; no significant difference, χ 2 P = 0·768 at P < 0·05). Our results extend the reported southern range of R. typhi by 140 km and indicate it is endemic in Waikato. Evidence of past Rickettsia felis infections was also detected in six sera. Globally, R. felis is an emerging disease of concern and this pathogen should also be considered when locally acquired rickettsiosis is suspected. If public health interventions are to be implemented to reduce the risk of rickettsioses as a significant public health problem, improvements in rickettsial diagnostics and surveillance will be necessary.

History

Journal

Epidemiology and infection

Volume

144

Pagination

2283-2289

Location

Cambridge, Eng.

Open access

  • Yes

eISSN

1469-4409

Language

eng

Publication classification

C Journal article, C1.1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal

Copyright notice

2016, Cambridge University Press

Issue

11

Publisher

Cambridge University Press