A Tale of Black Eschar in a Returning Traveller

Elizabeth Liao, David Carr
Journal of Emergency Medicine 2017, 53 (6): 904-906

BACKGROUND: African tick-bite fever is an increasingly common cause for fever in the returning traveller. It needs to be considered in the febrile returning traveller with a characteristic rash: a black eschar.

CASE REPORT: We describe a 51-year-old man returning from South Africa who presented to our emergency department with fever, headache, myalgia, and chills. On careful history and skin examination, a black eschar was found on the patient's left lateral shoulder, pointing toward a diagnosis of African tick-bite fever. The patient was treated with doxycycline and rapidly improved. WHY SHOULD AN EMERGENCY PHYSICIAN BE AWARE OF THIS?: In the emergency department, the diagnosis of African tick-bite fever is often overlooked in the pursuit of ruling out other travel-related illnesses, such as malaria. A thorough history, a complete physical examination, and a high level of suspicion are essential to the timely diagnosis and treatment of African tick-bite fever in the returning traveller.

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