, Volume 6, Issue 3, pp 293-299

Prevalence of antibodies to Rickettsia conorii Coxiella burnetii and Rickettsia typhi in Salamanca province (Spain). Serosurvey in the human population

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Abstract

The Salamanca Province of Spain is an endemic zone for Mediterranean spotted fever. In this area, only one case of Q fever has been reported and typhus group rickettsial diseases have never been diagnosed. To obtain a panoramic view of the presence of antibodies to the most ubiquitous rickettsial agents, 400 sera specimens from a statistically representative sample of the human population of Salamanca City and its surrounding province were subjected to indirect microimmunofluorescent test for antibodies against Rickettsia conorii, Coxiella burnetii, phase II, and Rickettsia typhi antigens. Titers ≥1:40 to R. conorii were found in 73.5% of the sera. Positivity was more common in subjects who reported closer contact with the natural environment and/or with domestic animals. Seropositivity to C. burnetii, phase II, was detected in 50.2% of sera. These positive cases were related to rural environmental factors and to prevoius contact with animals. The frequency of antibodies increased with age showing a progressive exposure to the rickettsial antigen. The prevalence of antibodies to R. conorii and C. burnetii in the human population of Salamanca Province is higher than that reported from any other geographic zone. The study of antibodies to R. typhi showed that 12.5% of the sera had titers ≥1:40. According to our results, seropositivity to this rickettsial antigen cannot be related to any particular group of population nor interpreted totally as cross reactivity with R. conorii. Our data show a wide distribution of R. conorii and C. burnetii antigens in Salamanca Province, and also indicate the presence of R. typhi antigens in this area.