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African Tick Bite Fever

Introduction

African tick bite fever is an infection spread by tick bites that can cause a fever and rash.

Amblyomma Variegatum Female Male     Amblyomma Variegatum Female Engorged

Recommendations for Travellers

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 rest on undergrowth waiting to brush onto clothing when a person walks by, or on the ground they actively crawl towards people and climb upwards from feet or shoes looking for exposed skin. Travellers should take precautions against tick bites.

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

There is no vaccine against African Tick Bite Fever.

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 can become 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 and should be started as soon as the infection is suspected.

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