South African tick-bite fever

South African tick-bite fever is a disease passed to humans by ticks that are infected with an organism called Rickettsia africae.These ticks, known as buffalo ticks, usually live on cattle in southern Africa.

Symptoms usually begin within 8 days after the tick bite and may last for 1 to 15 days. Symptoms may include:

  • Fever and chills.
  • Multiple ulcerlike or crusty skin sores.
  • Swelling in the area of the skin sores.
  • Generalized swollen glands.

Unlike some tick-borne diseases, South African tick-bite fever does not cause a rash.

A person who has South African tick-bite fever is treated with antibiotics (usually doxycycline).

Last Updated: January 13, 2010

Author: Jan Nissl, RN, BS

Medical Review: Martin Gabica, MD - Family Medicine & Sean P. Bush - Emergency Medicine, Envenomation Specialist & H. Michael O'Connor, MD - Emergency Medicine

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