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Urticaria and bacterial infections

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The association between urticaria and infectious diseases has been discussed for >100 years. However, a causal relationship with underlying or precipitating infection is difficult to establish. The purpose of this work was to perform a systematic analysis of the published cases of urticaria associated with bacterial infections. We give an umbrella breakdown of up-to-date systematic reviews and other important publications on the complex association of urticaria and bacterial infections. We did a Medline search, for English language articles published until January 2014, using the key words “urticaria” and “bacteria/bacterial disease”; a second analysis was performed in groups of bacteria and using each germ name as a key word. Many bacterial infections have been associated with urticaria manifestation, such as Helicobacter pylori, Streptococcus, Staphylococcus, Mycoplasma pneumonia, Salmonella, Brucella, Mycobacterium leprae, Borrelia, Chlamydia pneumonia, and Yersinia enterocolitica. In some cases the skin manifestations, described as urticaria, could be caused by the presence of the microorganism in the skin, or for the action of their toxins, or to the complement activation mediated by circulating immune complexes. Although only a weak association with urticaria of unclear pathogenesis exists, clinicians should consider these bacterial agents in the workup of the patients with urticaria. The eradication of the infection could, in fact, lead to the resolution of urticaria. Prospective studies and well-structured research are obviously needed to better clarify the real role of bacteria in the pathogenesis of urticaria and their relative prevalence.
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