Note for Pet Owners:

This information is provided by Provet for educational purposes only.

You should seek the advice of your veterinarian if your pet is ill as only he or she can correctly advise on the diagnosis and recommend the treatment that is most appropriate for your pet.

Mediterranean Spotted Fever is an important  Zoonosis.

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Mediterranean spotted fever (also called MSF, or Boutonneuse fever) is a Rickettsial infection which is being reported with increasing frequency and occurs in humans from Northern European countries who have taken holidays in Mediterranean countries (including Spain, France, Italy, Portugal, Turkey, and Greece) with their dogs, or been bitten by ticks whilst on holiday in endemic areas.

The cause of MSF is
Rickettsia conorii. This organism is endemic in many geographical areas including Africa, India, the Mediterranean countries  and countries bordering the Black Sea. The infectious agent is transmitted by insect vectors - Rhipicephalus spp.of ticks  (Rhipicephalus sanguineus)

Breed Occurrence
MSF can affect any breed. It's normal reservoir hosts are rodents and dogs. People are infected as incidental hosts and they usually catch the disease from their pet dog or from tick bites.

Various surveys have been conducted in endemic and non-epidemic areas. For example, the serological evidence from 3 studies conducted in Spain showed positive reactions in 26%, 58.6% and 93% of tested dogs respectively. In humans reactive sera have been found in as many as 82% of samples collected from small villages in Salamanca. 

In a study conducted in central Spain ticks were removed from dogs and tested for MSF and over 40% were positive.

In humans the clinical signs are fever, skin eruptions and bed sores, myalgia, headaches, diarrhoea and weight loss. Both renal and hepatic function can be affected in patients with this disease. In one report of 13 cases , 10 had been in contact with a dog, and 4 had been bitten by a tick. So dogs are in important source of infection for this zoonosis.

Dogs living in endemic areas may be asymptomatic , but dogs that contract the disease may show similar signs to humans.

Liver or renal failure.

In infected dogs general laboratory findings may include :

  • Leukopenia (mild)
  • Normocytic normochromic anaemia
  • Thrombocytopenia 
  • Megathrombocytosis
  • DIC (rare)
  • Biochemical findings consistent with liver or renal damage and failure.

Diagnosis is confirmed by serological testing.

Infected dogs may recover spontaneously within a few days of infection, in which case they develop significant immunity. 

Antibiotics. Tetracycline, chloramphenicol, doxycycline and enrofloxacin are all effective against the organism. 

Prevention - avoid tick infested areas in endemic parts of the world. Remove attached ticks as soon as possible

Good if diagnosed and treated rapidly

Long term problems

Updated October 2013