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Human Granulocytic Ehrlichiosis in Belgium: an underestimated cause of disease.

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Abstract

OBJECTIVES:

Human Granulocytic Ehrlichiosis (HGE) is a recently discovered zoonosis and, in Europe, not always included in laboratory testing when a patient presents with a history of tick bite. The available serology results indicate that HGE should be included in the screening panel when a tick-borne
disease is suspected.

METHODS:

Serological methods were applied; i.e. indirect immunofluorescence and Western Blot analysis. Sixty-five serum samples from 47 patients were analysed, of six patients sequential samples were available.

RESULTS:

33.8% of the submitted samples were found positive in indirect immunofluorescence, Western Blot confirmed 46.1% of these positive samples.

CONCLUSIONS:

Although the causative agent and the vector for HGE, Ixodes ticks, are present in Belgium, serology for HGE is seldom solicited. Ehrlichiosis is apparently not always considered as a plausible or possible cause for illness, even when the patient presents with a history of tick bite. We present here a, true be it, incomplete picture of the present situation in Belgium, but nevertheless indicating that it is warranted to test patients with a history of tick bite not only for
Lyme disease, but also for HGE.

J Infect. 2003 Aug;47(2):129-32. Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov’t

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