Rickettsiosis in Italy

14 June 2022

Article: 56/2304

On 7 June 2022, Italian health services reported that a person had died of rickettsiosis in Lanusei, central-eastern Sardinia, Italy. The patient had been seriously ill in hospital since 2 June 2022 after being bitten by a tick.

Rickettsiosis is a serious bacterial infection transmitted to humans predominantly from the bite of an infected tick. It occurs around the world with most cases in Europe occurring in the Mediterranean region. Symptoms are often non-specific, or may include fever and a rash, and treatment usually includes antibiotics. No vaccine is currently available against rickettsiosis.

Advice for travellers 

Travellers to endemic areas should be aware of the types of activities that increase tick bite exposure, such as walking, hiking, camping, cycling or fishing in woodlands, overgrown fields, parkland, hills and mountainsides. 

Travellers can avoid tick bites by:

  • wearing long sleeved tops, trousers tucked into socks, closed footwear to reduce the amount of exposed skin that could be bitten 
  • using insect repellents on any areas of exposed skin 
  • wearing light coloured clothing so that ticks are more visible if they brush onto clothing 

After participating in outdoor activities, travellers should be advised to inspect their whole body for ticks, and to remove any found as quickly as possible. More information on insect bite avoidance is available on the TRAVAX (for health professionals) and fitfortravel (for the general public) websites. 

Sources: TRAVAX, 8 June 2022 and fitfortravel, 8 June 2022