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Mediterranean spotted fever rickettsiosis in Italy, 2001–2015: Spatio-temporal distribution based on hospitalization records

Gomez-Barroso, Diana, Vescio, Maria Fenicia, Bella, Antonino, Ciervo, Alessandra, Busani, Luca, Rizzo, Caterina, Rezza, Giovanni, Pezzotti, Patrizio
Ticks and tick-borne diseases 2019 v.10 no.1 pp. 43-50
Rickettsia aeschlimannii, Rickettsia conorii, Rickettsia massiliae, boutonneuse fever, coasts, fever, hospitals, islands, models, public health, retrospective studies, spatial distribution, summer, ticks, Italy, Mediterranean region, Northern Africa, Sardinia, Sicily
The Mediterranean spotted fever (MSF) rickettsiosis is the predominant rickettsial disease among the spotted fever group (SFG) rickettsiae in the Mediterranean countries and North Africa. Its causative agent is Rickettsia conorii, although, SFG rickettsiosis - cases due to Rickettsia monacensis, Rickettsia massiliae and Rickettsia aeschlimannii were also described. A retrospective study based on hospital discharge records with a diagnosis of SFG rickettsiosis was carried out to describe the spatial pattern, the trend of the disease, and the epidemiological characteristics of persons hospitalized in the period 2001–2015. Standardized hospitalization ratios were calculated at municipal level using the European population. Smoothed maps were produced using a localised smoothing Poisson model. The mean annual standardized hospitalization rate was 1.36/100,000 person years (95%CI: 1.34; 1.39). Rates showed strong summer seasonality and tended to decrease over time. During the study period, 28.89% of municipalities had smoothed standardized hospitalization ratios greater than 1 and 14.01% above 20. Higher standardized hospitalization ratios were found in areas along the Tyrrhenian coast, especially in the south of Calabria and in the islands of Sardinia and Sicily, where the disease is of public health relevance.