Tick-borne diseases (TBDs) are a growing public health threat and are increasingly identified as the cause of undifferentiated febrile illness. There is a significant gap in our understanding of ticks and their associated pathogens in Ecuador. An arboviral surveillance study allowed us to explore potential exposure to TBDs in febrile subjects. We tested plasma samples from 222 febrile subjects for spotted fever group rickettsial (SFGR) antibodies from southern coastal Ecuador in 2014-2015 via ELISA. Fifty-five (25%) subjects had evidence of anti-SFRG IgG or IgM antibodies. Although attempts to detect Rickettsia species in plasma by polymerase chain reaction were unsuccessful, these preliminary data suggest the possibility of endemic SFGR transmission in Ecuador. To better understand the burden and entomological risk for TBDs in Ecuador, future studies should expand TBD surveillance in humans, document common human-biting ticks, and measure pathogen carriage rates in questing ticks.
American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene