“Louse-borne relapsing fever (LBRF) is an epidemic disease with a fascinating history from Hippocrates’ times, through the 6th century ‘Yellow Plague’, to epidemics in Ireland, Scotland and England in the 19th century and two large Afro-Middle Eastern pandemics in the 20th century. An endemic focus persists in Ethiopia and adjacent territories in the Horn of Africa. Since 2015, awareness of LBRF in Europe, as a re-emerging disease, has been increased dramatically by the discovery of this infection in dozens of refugees arriving from Africa.The causative spirochaete, Borrelia recurrentis, has a genome so similar to B. duttonii and B. crocidurae (causes of East and West African tick-borne relapsing fever), that they are now regarded as merely ecotypes of a single genomospecies. Transmission is confined to the human body louse Pediculus humanus corporis, and, perhaps, the head louse P. humanus capitis, although the latter has not been proved. Infection is by inoculation of louse coelomic fluid or faeces by scratching. Nosocomial infections are possible from contamination by infected blood. Between blood meals, body lice live in clothing until the host’s body temperature rises or falls, when they seek a new abode.The most distinctive feature of LBRF, the relapse phenomenon, is attributable to antigenic variation of borrelial outer-membrane lipoprotein. High fever, rigors, headache, pain and prostration start abruptly, 2-18 days after infection.”
Warrell DA1. Epidemiol Infect. 2019 Jan;147:e106. doi: 10.1017/S0950268819000116.
See full article: Louse-borne relapsing fever (Borrelia recurrentis infection).