Clinical characteristics in a sentinel case as well as in a cluster of tularemia patients associated with grape harvest.


University Hospital Frankfurt, Frankfurt, Germany. Electronic address: [Email]


BACKGROUND : Tularemia is caused by Francisella tularensis and can occasionally establish foodborne transmission.
METHODS : Patients were identified by active case detection through contact with the treating physicians and consent for publication was obtained. Clinical data were accumulated through a review of the patient charts. Serology, culture, and PCR methods were performed for confirmation of the diagnosis.
UNASSIGNED : A 46-year-old patient was hospitalised in the University Hospital Frankfurt (a tertiary care hospital) for pharyngitis and cervical lymphadenitis with abscess. A diagnosis of tularemia was made serologically, but treatment with ciprofloxacin initially failed. F. tularensis was detected in pus from the lymph node using a specific real-time PCR. The use of RD1 PCR led to the identification of the subspecies holarctica. Antibiotic therapy with high-dose ciprofloxacin and gentamicin was administered and was subsequently changed to ciprofloxacin and rifampicin. During a must-tasting, five other individuals became infected with tularemia by ingestion of contaminated must. All patients required treatment durations of more than 14 days.
CONCLUSIONS : Mechanically harvested agricultural products, such as wine must, can be a source of infection, probably due to contamination with animal carcasses. The clinical course of tularemia can be complicated and prolonged and requires differentiated antibiotic treatment.


Francisella tularensis,Francisella tularensis subspecies holarctica,Tularemia,Zoonosis,