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African Tick Bite Fever

Introduction

African tick bite fever is a bacterial infection transmitted by the bite of ‘tropical/South African bont’ ticks in sub Saharan Africa and the Caribbean.

Amblyomma Variegatum Female Male     Amblyomma Variegatum Female Engorged

The Illness

Symptoms start 5 to 10 days after a tick bite with fever, headache, tiredness and muscle pains.  The site of the tick bite becomes black with an area of redness around it.  Often more than one bite site is visible but sometimes the bite site cannot be seen. Most, but not all, people also develop a widespread rash.  The infection is usually not severe and no deaths have been recorded.

Treatment

Antibiotics are used to treat the infection.

Recommendations for Travellers

There is no vaccine against African Tick Bite Fever.

Travellers to rural parts of sub Saharan Africa and the Caribbean are at risk, particularly those participating in walking Safaris or hunting.  Tropical and South African bont ticks are aggressive and seek out prey. Travellers should take precautions against tick bites.

If symptoms develop after a bite, or the bite site turns black, medical attention should be sought.

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