ABSTRACT: Tularemia is a zoonotic infection caused by Francisella tularensis. In the recent years tularemia has become a re-emerging infection in Turkey with epidemics and also sporadic cases. Transmission occurs most often through consumption of contaminated water and food, direct contact with animals and insect/ tick bites. In this study, we evaluated clinical features and laboratory findings of 35 tularemia cases diagnosed during two outbreaks that occurred in two different villages during two different periods in Konya (located in Central Anatolia), Turkey and five sporadic cases. In both outbreaks, first (index) cases were admitted to our outpatient clinic with the complaints of cervical lympadenopathy. After diagnosis of tularemia, an organized team visited the villages to search if more cases existed. For microbiological diagnosis, blood, throat and tonsil swabs and lymph node aspirate specimens were collected from the suspected cases. Diagnostic tests (culture, serology, molecular methods) for tularemia were performed in reference center, Refik Saydam National Public Health Agency. Drinking and potable water samples from those villages were also collected by provincial health authorities. The cases (n= 14) that belonged to the first epidemics were detected in February 2010 and cases (n= 21) of the second epidemics in November- December 2010; five cases were followed as sporadic. The mean age of the 40 patients (25 females, 15 males) was 37.6 (age range: 5-80 years; five of them were pediatric group) years. The most common complaints of patients were cervical mass (90%), sore throat (63%), chills (60%) and fever (58%). The most frequently detected clinical findings were enlarged lymph nodes (n= 34, 85%), followed by tonsillitis (20%), skin lesions (15%) and conjunctivitis (8%). Most of the patients (82.5%) had been misdignosed as acute tonsillitis, suppurative lymphadenitis, tuberculous lymphadenitis and brucellosis, before their admission to our hospital and treated with beta-lactam antibiotics. Demographic analysis of the cases revealed that 68% of them lived in the rural area, 75% had rodents at home, 46% used natural water supplies, 53% fed animals, 15% had contact with game animals and 5% had contact with ticks. Clinical samples from the patients were found culture negative for F.tularensis. The diagnosis of the cases was based on the presence of specific F.tularensis antibodies between 1/160-1/1280 titers obtained by microagglutination test. Additionally F.tularensis DNA was demonstrated in three lymph node aspirate samples by polymerase chain reaction (PCR). Water samples were found negative both by culture and PCR assays. However, it was detected that there were problems in the chlorination of water supplies in the two villages where epidemics were seen. All the patients were treated with streptomycin (2 x 1 g, intramuscular, 10 days), and surgical intervention was performed for the patients (n= 12) with extremely large lymph nodes and suppuration. Erythema nodosum developed in two patients following the end of treatment. Death or serious complications such as pneumonia or meningitis were not detected. In conclusion, tularemia should be considered in patients presenting with cervical lymphadenopathy, sore throat, fever and unresponsive to previous treatment with beta-lactam antibiotics. For the management of the disease, healthcare personnel and the community should be educated concerning the risk factors and precautions for tularemia.
Mikrobiyoloji bülteni 04/2012; 46(2):225-35. · 0.40 Impact Factor