European Journal of Epidemiology

, 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

  • R. Ruiz-Beltrán
  • J. I. Herrero-Herrero
  • A. M. Martín-Sánchez
  • J. A. Martín-Gonzalez


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.

Key words

Rickettsiosis Serosurvey Rickettsia conorii Coxiella burnetii Rickettsia typhi 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    AusinaV., SambeatM.A., EstebanG., LuguinM., CondomM.J., RabellaN., BallesterF., PratsG. (1988): Estudio seroepidemiológico de la fiebre Q en áreas urbanas y rurales de Cataluña. - Enf. Infec. Microbiol. Clin. (Barcelona) 6: 95–101.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Fiebre Q en España. Vigilancia de Coxiella burnetii. Boletin Microbiológico Semanal. (1988): 3–4: 1–3.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Daza PérezR.M., Castillo RileraR., García CarbajosaS., Ojeda FernándezE., Damaso LópezD. and Moreno LópezM. (1980): Estudio de la tasa de anticuerpos a Coxiella burnetii en la población. sana - Med. Clin. (Barcelona) 74: 52–54.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    EguarasJ.R., Fiebre Q y mampuladores de carne (1981): Hoja Sanitaria del Instituto de Sanidad de Navarra 3: 3–4.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Everit B.S. (1977): The analisis of contingency tables. Chapman and Hall, 46–48.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    FisetP., OrmsbeeR.A., SilvermanR., PeacockM. and SpielmanS.H. (1969): A microagglutination technique for detection and measurement of rickettsial antibodies. - Acta Virol. 13: 60–66.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    García CurielA. and Nájera MorrondoE. (1984): Estudio seroepidemiol6gico de las rickettsiosis en la provincia de Sevilla, basado en las reacciones de inmunofluorescencia indirecta. - Rev. San. Hig. Pub. (Madrid) 58: 83–98.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    García RodríguezJ.A., Martín SánchezA.M., Ruiz BeltránR. and Herrero HerreroJ.I. (1985): Diagnóstico serológico de 70 enfermos con fiebre botonosa mediterránea. Comparación entre las técnicas de Weil-Felix e IFI. - Revista de Laboratorio (Granada) 79: 183–190.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    GonzálezJ.P., FisetP., GeorgesA.J., SaluzzoJ.F., WissemanG.L.Jr. (1985): Aproche serologiche sur l'incidence des rickettsioses en Republique Centroafricaine. - Bull. Soc. Path. Ex. 78: 153–156.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    HechemyK.E., RaoultD., EsemannC., YangsookH., and FoxJ.A. (1986): Detection of antibodies to Rickettsia conorii with a latex agglutination test in patients with Mediterranean spotted fever. - J. Infect. Dis. 153: 132–135.Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Instituto Nacional de Estadistica (1984): Censo de poblacíon 1981. Resultados provínciales de Salamanca, l'parte: caracteristicas de la población (III). - INE, Madrid.Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    López CortésL.F., Pachón DíazJ., Viciana FernandP., Cuello ContrerasJ.A., Palomino NicosJ., Comeado de la FuenteJ., Martín MartínA. and Torrenteras SantiagoR. (1983): Tifus murino. Revisión clínica y serológica de 42 casos. - Med. Clin. (Barcelona) 81: 831–164.Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    MansuetoS., VitaleG., SeminatoreM., DiRosaS., RobbertoD., GinevraS. and TringaliG. (1983): Indagine siero-epidemiologica sulla febbre bottonosa in Sicilia Occidentale. IV. Ricerca di anticorpi anti-R. conorii in sieri umani e canini di Santa Caterina di Villarmosa (Provincia di Caltanissetta). - Acta Medit. Pat. Infec. Trop. 25: 139–144.Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    MansuetoS., VitaleG., MiceliM.D., TringaliG., QuartararoP., PiconedM. and OcchinoC. (1984): A seroepidemiological survey of asymptomatic cases of boutonneuse fever in Western Sicily. - Trans. Roy. Soc. Trop. Med. Hyg. 78: 16–18.Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Ming-YuangF., WalkerD.H., Quing-HuacL., HanL., Hay-ChunB., Jiakez, LenzB. and HongC. (1987): Rickettsiae and serologic evidence for prevalent spotted fever rickettsiosis in Inner Mongolia. - Am. J. Trop. Med. Hyg. 36: 615–620.Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    NewhouseV.F., ShepardC.C., RedusM.D., TzianabosT. and McDadeJ.E. (1979): A comparison of the complement fixation, indirect fluorescent antibody, and microagglution tests for the serological diagnosis of rickettsial diseases. - Am. J. Trop. Med. Hyg. 28: 387–395.Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    OsterChN, BurkeD.S., KenionR.H., AscherM.S., HarberP. and PedersenCE. (1977): Laboratory-acquired Rocky Mountain spotted fever. The hazard of aerosol transmission. - N. Engl. J. Med. 297: 859–863.Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    PsistakisM., VitaleG., TringaliG., RobbertoD., PintagroG. and MansuetoS. (1983): Ricerca di anticorpi anti R. conorii in sieri umani e canini di Canea (Isola di Creta). - Acta Medit. Pat. Infec. Trop. 2: 135–138.Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    RaoultD., TogaB., ChaunetH. and ChichePorticheC. (1987): Rickettsial antibodies in Southern France: Antibodies to Rickettsia conorii and Coxiella burnetii among urban, suburban and semirural blood donors. - Trans. Roy. Soc. Trop. Med. Hyg. 81: 80–81.Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    RehacekJ. (1984): Rickettsia slovaka: the organism and its ecology. Acta Sc. Nat. Brno. 18: 1–50.Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    ShepardChC, GoldwasserP.A. (1960): Fluorescent antibody staining as a mean of detecting Rocky Mountain spotted fever infection in individual ticks. -Am. J. Hyg. 72: 120–129.Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    SixlW., RoseggerH., SchneeweisH., WithalmH. and SchulmanG. (1987): Serological investigations in Nigeria for antropozoonoses in human sera: Brucellosis, Echinococcosis, Toxoplasmosis, Chlamydial diseases, Listeriosis, Rickettsiosis (Coxiella burnetii and Rickettsia conorii). - J. Hyg. Epidemiol. Microbiol. Immunol. 31: 493–495.Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    Somma-MoreiraR.F., CaffavenaR.M., SommaS., PérezG. and Montriro (1987): Analysis of Q fever in Uruguay. - Rev. Infect. Dis., 9: 386–387.Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    TaylorJ.P., TannerW.B., RawlingsJ.A., BuckJ., ElliotL.B., DewlettH., TaylorB. and BetzT.G. (1985): Serological evidence of subclinical Rocky Mountain spotted fever infection in Texas. - J. Infect. Dis., 15: 367–369.Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    WHO Working Group on Rickettsial Disease. (1982): Rickettsioses: a continuing disease problem. - Bull. W.H.O., 60: 157–164.Google Scholar
  26. 26.
    YamadaT., HarberP., PettitG.W., WingN.A. and OsterChN (1978): Activation of the kallikrein-kinin system in Rocky Mountain spotted fever. - Ann. Intern. Med., 88: 764–768.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • R. Ruiz-Beltrán
    • 1
  • J. I. Herrero-Herrero
    • 1
  • A. M. Martín-Sánchez
    • 2
  • J. A. Martín-Gonzalez
    • 2
  1. 1.Departments of MedicineUniversity HospitalSalamancaSpain
  2. 2.Departments of MicrobiologyUniversity HospitalSalamancaSpain

Personalised recommendations