Original Article

Consideration of Vector-Borne and Zoonotic Diseases during Differential Diagnosis

Authors: Steven T. Peper, PhD, Adam C. Jones, PhD, Cynthia Reinoso Webb, PhD, Mark Lacy, MD, Steven M. Presley, PhD


Objective: Recognition and reporting of vector-borne and zoonotic disease (VBZD) cases is largely dependent upon the consideration of such diseases by healthcare practitioners during the initial diagnosis and ordering of specific confirmative diagnostic tests. This study was conducted to assess the general knowledge and understanding of VBZD transmission and clinical presentation.

Methods: Healthcare practitioners were surveyed to determine the extent of training and educational experiences they received relative to VBZDs, and their likelihood to consider such diseases during differential diagnoses. In addition, an assessment of their knowledge of arthropod species that may transmit VBZD pathogens was conducted.

Results: Having postprofessional school training relevant to VBZDs significantly influenced diagnostic accuracy for such disease cases based on the presented clinical signs and symptoms.

Conclusions: The prevalence of VBZDs in the United States likely is significantly underestimated. The authors suggest the enhancement of VBZD-focused education as an important initiative that would significantly improve timely diagnosis, treatment, and, ultimately, prevention of these diseases.
Posted in: Infectious Disease42

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Table 1. Clinical signs and symptoms of vector-bone and zoonotic diseases presented to healthcare practitioners for consideration for initial differential diagnoses

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Table 2. Participant responses of the most likely and second most likely initial diagnoses of diseases based on patient presentation of signs and symptoms listed in the survey

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Table 3. Participants indicating they previously diagnosed a patient with the diseases outlined

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Table 4. Percentage of respondents matching arthropod vectors to the various listed pathogens

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