Distribution of rickettsioses in Oceania: past patterns and implications for the future




Derne, Bonnie
Weinstein, Philip
Musso, Didier
Lau, Colleen

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Rickettsioses present a threat to human health worldwide, but relatively little is known on their epidemiology and ecology in Oceania. These bacteria are the cause of potentially fatal febrile illnesses in humans (categorized into scrub typhus, typhus group and spotted fever group rickettsioses). They are transmitted by arthropod vectors such as ticks, mites, fleas and lice, which are associated with vertebrate host animals including rodents and companion animals. We conducted a search in the scientific and grey literature of Rickettsia spp. and Orientia tsutsugamushi within the Oceania region. Human case reports, human serosurveys and PCR-based testing of vectors and host animals reviewed here highlight the widespread distribution of these pathogens in the region, with the majority of human serological and vector surveys reporting positive results. These findings suggest that rickettsioses may have a significantly higher burden of disease in Oceania than is currently appreciated due to diagnostic challenges. Furthermore, consideration of the ecology and risk factors for rickettsioses reported for Oceania suggests that their importance as a cause of undifferentiated acute febrile illness may grow in the future: environmental and social changes driven by predicted climate change and population growth have the potential to lead to the emergence of rickettsioses as a significant public health problem in Oceania.



environmental health, pacific, rickettsia, spotted fever, typhus, vector-borne diseases



Acta Tropica


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Open Access

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Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International



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