Risk of African Tick-Bite Fever is present throughout the country. Ticks that transmit ATBF are most active from February to May in Zimbabwe.
African Tick-Bite Fever (ATBF) is a tick-borne spotted fever, a bacterial infection carried by ticks infected with Rickettsia africae bacteria. It is a zoonosis – an animal infection that can spread to humans – transmitted by Amblyomma ticks that feed on livestock and wild animals. These ticks typically live in tall grass, vegetation, and brush of rural areas. Rickettsial infections are not transmitted from person to person.
>> Travel health advice on Tick-borne Spotted Fevers.
Risk is present in sub-Saharan Africa and the eastern Caribbean. Travellers involved in outdoor activities in forested areas are at risk, including camping, hiking, hunting, and safaris. Brushing against vegetation or walking in areas known to have infected ticks can also put a person at risk. In sub-Saharan Africa, ticks that carry ATBF are typically most active during warm and rainy seasons, from November to April.
Symptoms of African Tick-Bite Fever usually appear within 2 weeks and include fever, headache, rash, muscle pain, and a red sore with a dark centre (known as an eschar) that develops at the site of the bite. ATBF can be treated with antibiotics. If you experience symptoms of ATBF, tell your doctor you were in an area with risk.
Travellers who participate in safaris, hiking, camping, or similar outdoor activities in rural regions of endemic areas should take measures to prevent tick bites. There is no preventive medication or vaccine against rickettsial infections.
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Information last updated: April 16, 2020