, Volume 7, Issue 3, pp 291-293

Rickettsiae and rickettsioses in Portugal

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The only rickettsiae recorded in Portugal till now were Rickettsia conorii and Coxiella burnetii. Boutonneuse fever is one of the most important transmissible diseases in Portugal. Though the annual number of cases is not exactly known, it is estimated to be not far from 20,000 in some years. Q fever is the other rickettsiosis widely disseminated throughout the country. The serological prevalence and the incidence of those rickettsioses in Portugal are presented in this communication. In recent research in southern Portugal, about 4,000 adult ticks of nine species were screened by the haemocyte test for rickettsiae and rickettsia-like organisms (RLO). In addition to R. conorii three microscopically different RLO were observed. Two of them, i.e. ovoid and bacillary-like, were positive in the immunofluorescence test with spotted fever (R. conorii) antiserum. The first occurred mainly in Rhipicephalus sanguineus ticks, the second one also in other tick species. The latter agent was cultivated in half-engorged R. sanguineus females and in Vero cells. The third organism was found in R. sanguineus, where it exhibited a massive infestation in haemocytes resembling that seen in experimentally infected ticks with C. burnetii, but not being this agent. The investigation of the isolates and their identification and characterization are being continued.

Presented at the 4th International Symposium on Rickettsiae and Rickettsial Diseases, Pieštany, C.S.F.R., 1–6 October, 1990.