Doxycycline responding illnesses in returning travellers with undifferentiated non-malaria fever: a European multicenter prospective cohort study

Daniel Camprubí-Ferrer, José Antonio Oteo, Emmanuel Bottieau, Blaise Genton, Leire Balerdi-Sarasola, Aránzazu Portillo, Ludovico Cobuccio, Steven Van Den Broucke, Sonia Santibáñez, Dániel Cadar, Natalia Rodriguez-Valero, Alex Almuedo-Riera, Carme Subirà, Valérie d'Acremont, Miguel J Martinez, Montserrat Roldán, Jessica Navero-Castillejos, Marjan Van Esbroeck, Jose Muñoz

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BACKGROUND: Diagnosis of undifferentiated non-malaria fevers (NMF) in returning travellers is a great challenge. Currently, there is no consensus about the use of empirical antibiotics in returning travellers with undifferentiated non-malaria fevers (NMF). Although studies in endemic areas showed that a wide range of pathogens implicated in undifferentiated NMF are treatable with doxycycline, the role of doxycycline in returning travellers with fever still has to be explored.

METHODS: Prospective European multicenter cohort study of febrile international travellers (November 2017-November 2019). Immunological and molecular diagnostic techniques for doxycycline responding illnesses (DRI) agents such as Anaplasma phagocytophilum, Spotted Fever Group Rickettsia spp., Typhus Group Rickettsia spp., Coxiella burnetii, Bartonella spp., Orientia tsutsugamushi, Borrelia miyamotoi, Borrelia recurrentis and Leptospira spp. were systematically performed in all patients with undifferentiated NMF. We estimated the prevalence and predictive factors of DRI in returning travellers with undifferentiated NMF.

RESULTS: Among 347 travellers with undifferentiated NMF, 106 (30·5%) were finally diagnosed with DRI. Only 57 (53·8%) of the 106 DRI infections were diagnosed by the standard of care. The main causes of DRI were: 55 (51·9%) Rickettsia spp., 16 (15·1%) C. burnetii; 15 (14·2%) Bartonella spp.; 13 (12·3%) Leptospira spp.; and 10 (9·5%) A. phagocytophilum. The only predictive factor associated with DRI was presenting an eschar (aOR 39·52, 95%CI 4·85-322·18). Features of dengue such as retro-orbital pain (aOR 0·40, 95%CI 0·21-0·76) and neutropenia (aOR 0·41, 95%CI 0·21-0·79) were negatively associated with DRI.

CONCLUSIONS: Although DRI are responsible for 30% of undifferentiated NMF cases in travellers, those are seldom recognized during the first clinical encounter. Empirical treatment with doxycycline should be considered in returning travellers with undifferentiated fever and negative tests for malaria and dengue, particularly when presenting severe illness, predictive factors for rickettsiosis or no features of dengue.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbertaac094
JournalJournal of Travel Medicine
Issue number1
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2022


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