Serological evidence of infection with Rickettsia typhi among inmates in Jos Prison, Nigeria.

  • N Lohy
  • O Stella
  • N Vendagor
  • K Mathias
  • O Chukwu
Keywords: Rickettsia typhi, Prison inmates, Jos-Nigeria


Background: Rickettsia typhi a gram negative obligate intracellular bacterium has been described as the etiological agent of murine typhus an infectious disease associated with febrile illnesses and wide range of non-specific clinical signs. It can be transmitted by the rat flea, Xenopsylla cheopsis. Aim: The aim of the study is to determine the prevalence of R. typhi among inmates in Jos prison. Methodology: Sera from 93 prison inmates were examined for R. typhi IgM antibodies using enzyme immunoassay. Age, residence area prior to incarceration, sanitary conditions/ personal hygiene, history of fleabite/contact with animals and numbers in cell were surveyed. Results: Overall Rickettsia typhi seroprevalence was 71.1%. Rickettsia typhi was present in 77.6% and 60.0% from subjects resident in urban and rural areas prior to incarceration. The age group of 42-60 years had the highest prevalence of 87.5%. 59/78 (75.6%) reported very poor sanitary conditions. All the inmates were exposed to fleabite and had contact with animals. Poor sanitary conditions/personal hygiene, history of fleabite/contact with animals and overcrowding in the prison were found to be significantly associated with the infection in this population (p< 0.05). Our data seem to reveal the presence of Rickettsia typhi among prison inmates in Jos. Conclusion: Rodent and flea control programmes need be intensified as well as improvement of sanitary conditions in our prisons is necessary to reduce the incidence of the disease. We urge that serologic testing be also considered for R. typhi in cases of febrile illnesses of unknown origin in our environment.

Keywords: Rickettsia typhi , Prison inmates, Jos-Nigeria


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eISSN: 1596-2407