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Human Granulocytic Ehrlichiosis in Belgium: an underestimated cause of disease

  • P. Heyman
    Correspondence
    Corresponding author. Address: Research Laboratory for Vector-borne Diseases, Queen Astrid Military Hospital, Bruynstraat 1, Brussels B-1120, Belgium. Tel.: +32-22644044; fax: +32-22644608
    Affiliations
    Research Laboratory for Vector-borne Diseases, Queen Astrid Military Hospital, Bruynstraat 1, Brussels B-1120, Belgium

    Department Well-Being, Queen Astrid Military Hospital, Bruynstraat 1, Brussels B-1120, Belgium
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  • C. Cochez
    Affiliations
    Research Laboratory for Vector-borne Diseases, Queen Astrid Military Hospital, Bruynstraat 1, Brussels B-1120, Belgium

    Department Well-Being, Queen Astrid Military Hospital, Bruynstraat 1, Brussels B-1120, Belgium
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  • G. Bigaignon
    Affiliations
    Department of Microbiology, University of Louvain, 54-90 Avenue Hippocrate, Brussels B-1200, Belgium
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  • B. Guillaume
    Affiliations
    Department of Microbiology, University of Louvain, 54-90 Avenue Hippocrate, Brussels B-1200, Belgium
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  • M. Zizi
    Affiliations
    Department Well-Being, Queen Astrid Military Hospital, Bruynstraat 1, Brussels B-1120, Belgium
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  • C. Vandenvelde
    Affiliations
    Research Laboratory for Vector-borne Diseases, Queen Astrid Military Hospital, Bruynstraat 1, Brussels B-1120, Belgium

    National Reference Center for Hantavirus Infections, Queen Astrid Military Hospital, Bruynstraat 1, Brussels B-1120, Belgium
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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.

      Keywords

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