Tick Borne Relapsing Fevers is a disease of man caused by spirochetes of the genus Borrelia transmitted to man by soft ticks of genus Ornithodorous through biting or contamination of bite wounds with coxal fluid. Borrelia duttonii is common in most parts of Tanzania particularly central and North West of the country, where it can be a significant cause of serious illness, especially in children and pregnant women. It is endemic in 14 regions of Tanzania mainland.
Although TBRF is known throughout the country, the exact magnitude of the disease in Tanzania, and indeed elsewhere in Africa, remains to be determined. For many years cases classified as malaria are probably TBRF cases because it is difficult to distinguish clinically between these two diseases, this might have contributed to underestimation of TBRF problem in the country.
Recent work by Kisinza et al 2003 in Dodoma region, found 5% of febrile children have positive blood slides for Borrelia. The annual incidence in under 5’s has been reported as 163/1000 by Barclay and Coulter 1990. The situations in other regions are not well known. In endemic villages of Tanzania, house infestations with the Ornithodorous soft ticks are substantially high up to 88% (Albert et al 1998, Kisinza et al 2003) and Borrelia sp Infection rates in these ticks may be over 60%.Interventions for TBRF include community sensitization on environmental hygiene and improving housing conditions. Others are training of Health workers on TBRF surveillance, early diagnosis and treatment.