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Open AccessArticle

Epidemiology and Characteristics of Rickettsia australis (Queensland Tick Typhus) Infection in Hospitalized Patients in North Brisbane, Australia

Department of Infectious Diseases, Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital, QLD, Australia
Australian Rickettsial Reference Laboratory, Geelong VIC, Australia
School of Medicine, University of Queensland QLD, Australia
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Patricia Graves, Thewarach Laha, Peter A. Leggat and Khin Saw Aye
Trop. Med. Infect. Dis. 2017, 2(2), 10;
Received: 22 March 2017 / Revised: 9 April 2017 / Accepted: 10 April 2017 / Published: 15 April 2017
PDF [1305 KB, uploaded 21 April 2017]


Queensland Tick Typhus (QTT; Rickettsia australis) is a Spotted Fever Group (SFG) rickettsial infection endemic to Australia. It is an underreported and often unrecognized illness with poorly defined epidemiology. This article describes epidemiological features and the geographical distribution of QTT in hospitalized patients. Cases of QTT were identified retrospectively from 2000–2015 at five sites in Northern Brisbane through a pathology database. Included cases had a four-fold rise in SFG-specific serology, a single SFG-specific serology ≥256 or an SFG-specific serology ≥128 with a clinically consistent illness. Of the fifty cases identified by serology, 36 were included. Age ranged from 3–72 years (with a mean of 39.5 years) with a male-to-female ratio of 1:1.1. Fifteen of 36 (42%) study participants had hobbies and/or occupations linked with the acquisition of the disease. Seventeen of 36 (47%) identified a tick bite in the days preceding presentation to hospital, and reported exposure to a known animal host was minimal (25%). QTT infection occurred throughout the year, with half reported between April and July. Recent ecological and sociocultural changes have redefined the epidemiology of this zoonotic illness, with areas of heightened infection identified. Heightened public health awareness is required to monitor QTT disease activity. View Full-Text
Keywords: tick-borne diseases; Rickettsia infections; epidemiology; Queensland; Australia tick-borne diseases; Rickettsia infections; epidemiology; Queensland; Australia

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Stewart, A.; Armstrong, M.; Graves, S.; Hajkowicz, K. Epidemiology and Characteristics of Rickettsia australis (Queensland Tick Typhus) Infection in Hospitalized Patients in North Brisbane, Australia. Trop. Med. Infect. Dis. 2017, 2, 10.

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