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Human granulocytic ehrlichiosis as a common cause of tick-associated fever in Southeast Sweden: report from a prospective clinical study.

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Between May and December 1998, tick-associated febrile illness was prospectively studied in Southeast Sweden in order to assess the occurrence of human granulocytic ehrlichiosis (HGE). Inclusion criteria were fever (> or = 38.0 degrees C), with or without headache, myalgia or arthralgia in patients with an observed tick bite or tick exposure within 1 month prior to onset of symptoms. Patients with clinical signs of
Lyme borreliosis were included. Of the 27 patients included, we identified 4 cases of HGE. Three of the patients had coinfection with
Lyme borreliosis, which presented as erythema migrans. All 27 patients presented with a 2-5 d history of fever. None of the clinical signs or laboratory parameters monitored was helpful in predicting ehrlichiosis in this group with tick-associated fever conditions. Within the HGE-negative group (n = 23), 12 patients had clinical or laboratory signs of
Lyme borreliosis. For 11 patients, the aetiology of the fever remained unclear. Our results suggest that HGE is common in tick-infested areas of Southeast Sweden, and may occur as a coinfection of
Lyme borreliosis. Granulocytic ehrlichiosis should be suspected in patients who present with tick-associated fever, with or without erythema migrans. Ehrlichia serology and PCR should be employed to confirm the diagnosis.

Scand J Infect Dis. 2002;34(3):187-91. Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov’t

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