Identification of factors for physicians to facilitate early differential diagnosis of scrub typhus, murine typhus, and Q fever from dengue fever in Taiwan

Ko Chang, Nan Yao Lee, Wen Chien Ko, Jih Jin Tsai, Wei Ru Lin, Tun Chieh Chen, Po Liang Lu, Yen Hsu Chen

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Background Dengue fever, rickettsial diseases, and Q fever are acute febrile illnesses with similar manifestations in tropical areas. Early differential diagnosis of scrub typhus, murine typhus, and Q fever from dengue fever may be made by understanding the distinguishing clinical characteristics and the significance of demographic and weather factors. Methods We conducted a retrospective study to identify clinical, demographic, and meteorological characteristics of 454 dengue fever, 178 scrub typhus, 143 Q fever, and 81 murine typhus cases in three Taiwan hospitals. Results Case numbers of murine typhus and Q fever correlated significantly with temperature and rainfall; the scrub typhus case number was only significantly related with temperature. Neither temperature nor rainfall correlated with the case number of dengue fever. The rarity of dengue fever cases from January to June in Taiwan may be a helpful clue for diagnosis in the area. A male predominance was observed, as the male-to-female rate was 2.1 for murine typhus and 7.4 for Q fever. Multivariate analysis revealed the following six important factors for differentiating the rickettsial diseases and Q fever group from the dengue fever group: fever ≥8 days, alanine aminotransferase > aspartate aminotransferase, platelets >63,000/mL, C-reactive protein >31.9 mg/L, absence of bone pain, and absence of a bleeding syndrome. Conclusion Understanding the rarity of dengue in the first half of a year in Taiwan and the six differentiating factors may help facilitate the early differential diagnosis of rickettsial diseases and Q fever from dengue fever, permitting early antibiotic treatment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)104-111
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Microbiology, Immunology and Infection
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2017 Feb 1


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)
  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases

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