The risk of acquiring North Asian tick typhus (infection by Rickettsia sibirica) during travel to regions of Asia where this disease is endemic is unknown. We investigated prospectively 13 paleontologists on expedition to Mongolia. Four paleontologists had acute illness characterised by fever, rash, headache, and lymphadenopathy. All had IgM and IgG antibodies to R sibirica. Paleontologists with no illness and people who went on expeditions in other parts of the world did not have antibodies to R sibirica. Only two of the four infected persons were aware of tick bites. Travellers to regions endemic for R sibirica are at risk of contracting North Asian tick typhus even in the absence of recognised tick-bites.
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