For the first time in Germany, a human being is afflicted with typhus by the bite of a tropical giant tick. The causal agent involved was detected in the tick, announced Wednesday the University of Hohenheim in Stuttgart. A horse owner from the Siegen region (North Rhine-Westphalia) sent a hyalomma tick at the end of July after biting his researchers in Hohenheim. A few days later, he arrived at the hospital with severe symptoms and suspected tick typhus. He has been successfully treated with antibiotics.
"Not only do we now know for sure that hyalomma ticks people," said Ute Mackenstedt, parasitologist at the University of Hohenheim. It is also clear that in Germany, the transmission of tick-borne typhus by animals is indeed possible. In the future, doctors will need to consider infection as a possible cause and be vigilant, she said.
The bacterium Rickettsia aeschlimannii causes febrile infection with headache and muscle aches, extreme joint pain and burning sensation. The rash, which gives its name to typhoid, is typical of the disease. According to the Robert Koch Institute, typhus is a rare disease in Germany.
The number of hyalomma ticks found in Germany has increased considerably in recent months and compared to the previous year. "We have already found 50 copies together in Germany in 2019. Last year, we had 35," said Mackenstedt. According to Mackenstedt, almost every second of the specimens found in 2019 carries the typhus pathogen. According to experts, hyalomma ticks in Germany were also able to winter for the first time this year.
The case of the horse owner of the Siegen region is treated as a suspect case because direct detection of the pathogen on patients according to the experts was not possible. "The treatment of the patient was simply basic," said Gerhard Dobler, a doctor at the Institute of Microbiology of the Bundeswehr in Munich. "But the tick bite that immediately precedes, the typical symptoms and especially the evidence of the pathogen present in the tick do not allow to conclude that the case was tick-borne typhus."
Hyalomma ticks come from the dry and semi-arid regions of Africa, Asia and southern Europe – from Spain to Italy and Turkey. Local ticks such as the common wood can easily be distinguished: they are up to two inches in length, are much larger and have remarkably striped legs. Until now, hyalomma ticks have been transported to Germany by migratory birds, where they think they can spread more widely this year.
Hyalomma ticks can also transmit more dangerous pathogens, including the virus that causes Congo Crimean fever, which can be associated with heavy bleeding. Last year, a total of 18 specimens from eight federal states (Bavaria, Baden-Württemberg, Hesse, Rhineland-Palatinate, North Rhine-Westphalia, Brandenburg, Berlin and Schleswig-Holstein) were sent and examined, 17 other ticks were due to images clearly like hyalomma Ticks were detected. None of the ticks tested contained the agent responsible for Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever.
Always dominant in each case, the "wooden buck" is considered a domestic tick species, said Mackenstedt. The pathogens that are transmitted to it can be the cause of Lyme disease and tick-borne encephalitis. Although normal ticks are not easy to see when they cling to the human body, the human senses the hyalomma tick attack, says expert Mackenstedt: "C & # 39; is much bigger, you can tell when he attacks you. "