Prevalence of Antibodies to Rickettsiae in Different Regions of Serbia

We assayed the presence of antibodies specific for Rickettsia typhi, R. akari, and R. conorii in sera of persons from several localities in Serbia with different geographic, climatic, and lifestyle characteristics. Sera from 140 patients with unclear clinical symptoms and 273 healthy persons were tested for the presence of rickettsiae-specific antibodies by indirect immunofluorescence assay. In this study, for the first time we detected the presence of rickettsiae from the spotted fever group in Serbia. We detected the presence of antibodies against R. conorii in the samples from all tested localities. The proportion of positive cases was low in the plain agricultural areas but reached up to 23% in the mountain areas. We also observed a significant number of cases positive for antibodies against R. akari. Antibodies specific for the antigens of R. typhi were detected in only 2 samples from the municipality of Pec (Kosovo region). These findings contribute to the prevalence of Rickettsia species in Southeast Europe. Our study also revealed a dramatic lack of awareness of rickettsioses among medical personnel and pointed to the need for urgent measures that would help improve the current situation in the region.
Кључне речи
Rickettsiae, Spotted fever group rickettsiae, Serbia, Indirect immunofluorescence assay