Emergence of murine typhus in La Réunion, France, 2012-2017

Publié le 3 aout 2019
Mis à jour le 5 janvier 2021

Objective: Murine typhus (MT) is an acute zoonosis caused by Rickettsia typhi, a flea-borne rickettsiosis. The first autochthonous case was reported in 2012. Once autochthonous transmission of Rickettsia typhi was proven, we performed a prospective study to describe and raise awareness of this often-misdiagnosed disease among physicians. Patients and methods: we performed a prospective observational study of MT cases in La Réunion from 2012 to 2017. MT cases were defined as clinically compatible illnesses with a specific positive serology and/or PCR. Results: sixty-one confirmed cases were collected. The main clinical features were prolonged fever (90%), asthenia (87%), and headaches (79%). The main biological abnormalities were elevated liver enzymes (84%) and thrombopenia (75%). Renal function was normal in 90% of cases; it was an important feature because leptospirosis is a frequent cause of acute renal failure. A seasonal factor was observed with 79% of cases reported in the warm season and most of them in the west and south of the island (i.e., the dry areas). Conclusion: MT is an emerging disease in La Réunion, and local conditions could lead to an endemic situation. Cases of acute undifferentiated fever with headaches should guide to the diagnosis of MT especially in the warm season and dry areas. Leptospirosis is an alternative diagnosis, which differs from MT by its epidemiological characteristics and by the associated frequent renal dysfunction.

Auteur : Grouteau G, Lancelot O, Bertolotti A, Poubeau P, Manaquin R, Foucher A, Jaubert J, Parola P, Pagès F, Camuset G
Médecine et Maladies Infectieuses, 2019, vol. 50, n°. 1, p. 22-27